My Favorite Things is a 1961 jazz album by John Coltrane. It is considered by many jazz critics and listeners to be a highly significant and historic recording. It was the first session recorded by Coltrane on the Atlantic label, the first to introduce his new quartet featuring McCoy Tyner (Piano), Elvin Jones (Drums) and Steve Davis (Bass) - neither Jimmy Garrison nor Reggie Workman featured as yet.
It is classed as another album in which Coltrane made a break free of bop, introducing complex harmonic reworkings of such songs as "My Favorite Things", and "But Not For Me". Additionally, at a time when the soprano saxophone was considered obsolete, it demonstrated Coltrane's further investigation of the instrument's capabilities in a jazz idiom.
The standard "Summertime" is notable for its upbeat, searching feel, a demonstration of Coltrane's 'sheets of sound', a stark antithesis to Miles Davis's melancholy, lyrical version on Porgy and Bess. "But Not For Me" is reharmonised using the famous Coltrane changes, and features an extended coda over a repeated ii-V-I-vi progression.
The title track is a modal rendition of the Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein's seminal song My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. The melody is heard numerous times throughout the almost 14-minute version, and instead of soloing over the written chord changes, both Tyner and Coltrane taking extended solos over vamps of the two tonic chords, E minor and E major. Tyner's solo is famous for being extremely chordal and rhythmic, as opposed to developing melodies. In the documentary The World According to John Coltrane, narrator Ed Wheeler remarks: "In 1960, Coltrane left Miles [Davis] and formed his own quartet to further explore modal playing, freer directions, and a growing Indian influence. They transformed "My Favorite Things", the cheerful populist song from 'The Sound of Music,' into a hypnotic eastern dervish dance. The recording was a hit and became Coltrane's most requested tune—an abridged broad public acceptance."
A cover of the title track appeared on the OutKast album The Love Below.
It is one of the most well-known examples of modal jazz, set in the Dorian mode and consisting of 16 bars of D minor7, followed by eight bars of Eb minor7 and another eight of D minor7. This AABA structure puts it in the format of popular song structure.
The piano and bass introduction for the piece was written by Gil Evans for Bill Evans and Paul Chambers on Kind of Blue. An orchestrated version by Gil Evans of this introduction is later to be found on a television broadcast given by Miles' Quintet (minus Cannonball Adderley who was ill that day) and the Gil Evans Orchestra; the orchestra gave the introduction after which the quintet produced a rendition of the rest of "So What".
The distinctive voicing employed by Bill Evans for the chords that interject the head, from the bottom up three perfect fourths followed by a major third, has been given the name "So What chord" by such theorists as Mark Levine.
While the track is taken at a very moderate tempo on Kind Of Blue, it is played at an extremely fast tempo on later live recordings by the Quintet, such as Four and More.
The same chord structure was later used by John Coltrane for his standard "Impressions".