John Coltrane wrote “Naima” for his first wife, and it first appeared on his 1959 Atlantic album Giant Steps, on which the tour de force title track re-wrote the book on tenor saxophone playing.
“Naima” is one of the most beautiful and durable of all jazz ballads; it has been recorded hundreds of times. Coltrane also played it often in concerts and recorded it numerous times after that 1959 watershed album.
I want to play these three unusual interpretations of the famous song.
1. Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble is first. She’s a classical violin and viola prodigy who’s branched out into improvisatory jazz and other styles. You can see her at a young girl with the violin maestro Isaac Stern in this photo (on the video below). By the way, Isaac Stern in China is a great documentary, recorded way back in the 1980s.
2. The second version is by Spanish pianist Chano Dominguez. Here he performs the standard with upright bass and a cajón instead of trap drums. I can’t find anything on YouTube for “Naima”, but I did find him with Wynton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra doing some big band flamenco with some nice dancing (note, it’s an hour!)
3. The final version of “Naima” is, like Ogura’s, chamberistic, and is from Toronto-based bassist Roberto Occhipinti. It’s refreshing to hear these versions of a timeless song.
Here Occhipinti talks about his album A Bend in the River.