December 18, 1995 12:00 PM

John Coltrane

This seven-CD boxed set captures saxophonist Coltrane circa 1959-61, when he began to develop a knockout punch as a composer. Included are rehearsals and outtakes from his groundbreaking “Giant Steps,” a rapidly shifting harmonic obstacle course that has been a test piece for every saxophonist since. The incantatory treatment of “My Favorite Things,” on which Coltrane’s soprano soars over mantra-like harmonic patterns, offers early evidence of a preoccupation with spirituality, which came to dominate his music just before his death in 1967, at 40, of liver disease. Behind the aggressive sense of urgency in Coltrane’s music was a gentle man in search of inner peace. “I’d like to point out to people the divine in a musical language that transcends words,” he once said. “I want to speak to their souls.” (Rhino/ Atlantic Jazz Gallery)

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