A friend of mine gave me John Coltrane’s Olé about six years ago, but it was not until last year in November that I really listened to it closely. Then a few weeks later while in Marrakech, I suddenly could not get the tune out of my head. From that moment on, I have become a Coltrane addict, and for no reason in particular, I found myself this past weekend listening over and over to “Olé“.
Although the piece appears to be dedicated to Spain, it is much more reminiscent of Northern Africa. With the exception of McCoy Tyner’s big piano cords and Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet both of which give the feel of a paso doble at a bull fight, the rest of the music is like you’re in Marrakech’s Djemaa el Fna or in a medina. Eric Dolphy’s flute reflects the incessant sound of North African flute players in the plaza and on the streets, and the excellent play between the two bassists (one plucking, the other one using the bow) together with Elvin Jones’ drums create the almost spiritual trance. And then there is John Coltrane soaring over the rest.
In a second rate effort to replicate this experience, I have created this third rate nine minute video (from the 18 minutes that the song endures) with photos from Spain and Morocco.