It's perhaps no surprise that John Coltrane wanted to do something different upon moving to the Impulse label after a long association with Atlantic. It is no surprise, either, that it might be a recording with a larger aggregate behind him. That was, and is, the style of the day when jazzers seek to get out of the box a bit. Leave it to Coltrane to turn all of that on its ear with 'Africa/Brass', a 1961 release that, because of its orchestration, is at once rumbling and mellow, rather than swinging and bright.
Coltrane hand picked a back-up group that featured only trumpets, trombones, French horns, tuba and euphoniums. We hear an expected, by then, take on a waltz standard in 'Greensleeves', something few would question after the artistic and commercial successes of Coltrane's blockbuster 'My Favorite Things' in 1960. The difference is drummer Elvin Jones, who was becoming ever more confident in the polyrhythms that would dominate jazz in the decade to come.
More interesting was the chant-like, almost religious beauty of 'Africa'. This set's centerpiece and the launching pad for Coltrane's move away from swing conventions into drones as a compositional foundation. Likewise, 'Blues Minor', worked out in a style that fits well with the stirring creativity now associated with this group, broods and swings with equal power.