Friday, June 26, 2015

"Brasilia" né "Neptune"

I have speculated that, due to its twelve-tone characteristics, the piece recorded by John Coltrane in 1961 and 1965 as “Brasilia” might have been written by or co-written with Eric Dolphy.

After all, “Miles’ Mode,” with its well-known twelve-tone row, was most likely written by Dolphy, who called it “The Red Planet.” 

The meanings of the titles “Miles’ Mode” and “Brasilia” are easy to link to Coltrane — he was famously a member of Miles Davis’ quintet, and he showed an interest in Afro-Brazilian culture and music (see, for example, “Ogunde”). 

Though “Brasilia” was originally issued as “Untitled Original,” Bob Thiele — the producer of the Village Vanguard recordings — referred to it in his logbook as “Neptune.” 

So Dolphy’s title for “Miles’ Mode” was “The Red Planet” (Mars), and Thiele’s logbook for the 1961 Vanguard sessions listed “Brasilia” as “Neptune.” Do these appellative variations indicate anything about authorship? 

We know of course that Coltrane was deeply interested in astrology. The answer to the question above is probably, “No.” 


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