Tuesday, January 13, 2009

John Coltrane, The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (Impulse)

On the way to 2009, Ania and I asked the wine seller to pick the perfect wine to bid farewell to the old year and bring in the new. He landed on a California Cabernet grown on hillside of dark, glassy rock, so steep that it was almost a cliff and nearly inaccessible. This produced gnarled, thorny vine from which very few fruits sprung, thick-skinned and filled with bejeweled incandescent juice. The ridge was so steep that what fruit there was could not be picked by machine, so that every grape had to be picked by a human hand that had scratched its way up the hill and scraped its skin against the trunk of the vine. The result of this torturous process? A wine of such deep color and dense beauty that it will haunt us for the rest of the year, at least.

Coltrane is hand that claws its way up the ridge. Coltrane is the plunge off the cliff. He is the center that holds. He is the train that ties India to Brasilia, Miles to Medieval Europe. The path is almost impossible, almost inaccessible, almost too much to handle, almost perfection, almost bliss. The rock that hits another, chips of glass fly off, carves a an obsidian arrowhead so sharp it pierces your heart instantly. You felt pain, this is true. But you can leave all the torture behind you. It's time to start anew.

Suggested Wine Pairing: There is no point of buying an incomplete "Village Vanguard," because once you start you will be compelled to get the complete 4-disc set. Likewise for the Obsidian Ridge Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005.