Coltrane. Can we talk?

Can we talk about John Coltrane for a second? Does he kill anyone else or is it just me? I've been on a Coltrane binge for the last seven months and have listened to little else. Whomever sent this guy down here in the first place must have missed him to take him back so fast but HELLO! Do we love him or what?
kublakhan (great screen name!): no, i'm sure it ain't just you but, unfortunately, it doesn't include me. i have some coltrane stuff and i've tried, i really have, to embrace him. just not my cuppa'. after watching every single minute of ken burns' "jazz," tho, i have a greater understanding of coltrane's place in the cosmos. i do think it's wonderful to have a musical hero. stick to him and proselytize for all you're worth. that's how we learn. _kelly
I have a sample size of only one (MoFi: Blue Train) but I thinks it's an outstanding piece of work. Can you recommend the next Coltrane CD I should buy? Also, have been thinking of buying the XRCD version of Sonny Rollins Sax. Collosus, can you offer any insight? I 'm another one that got the Jazz bug reignited after the Ken Burns special. I've been on a Billy H., Louie A, and Ella etc. binge ever since.
Colossus is unbeleibable Sonny Rollins is just right for me. Coltrane is tough for some people (myself included) to listen to, but his work, hell everybody'e work on "Kind of Blue" with Miles and the rest is absolutely my favorite Jazz CD. Of course there's Dizzy, can't forget Dizzy Gillespie, play a lot of "Night In Tunisia.
I am very much a fan, his timing and musicality were unbeatable. Is he the best ever, I cannot say. Certainly among the top.

If you do not already have it, there is an exceptional release of Cannonball Adderley and Coltrane called: "Quintet In Chicago". It has been remastered to 24/96 and is quite reasonably priced. There is also a great XRCD2 release of Coltrane's "Settin the Pace".

As far as Sonny Rollins, Collosus gets my highest recommendation. He too is amazing.
Coltrane had a very advanced harmonic conception. Many other players are still catching up with his mastery of the 3 & 4 tonic systems. I would even go so far as to say he pushed Western music, harmonically, ahead a little, as other players are doing today. I like his playing, and I think he was a brilliant thinker as is evident through his improvisation. He also wrote some great tunes that will imortalize him. I have a couple dozen CD's at least of his or with him on them, ( I have a big collection). BUT, having said all that, he's not one of my favorite players. How can I say that? Well, while I've learned a lot from his playing, especially how he moved between equidistant tonal centers, in my opinion his playing was lacking in areas- areas that if were developed would have made him a more well rounded master of his instrument. I'd rather listen to Joe Henderson, wow. Or for a more 'modern' player, whatever the hell that means, listen to Jerry Bergonzi or George Garzone, both of whom took a lot from Trane, but both of who have their own thing going, AND have more control over more parameters of music, and their horns.
Jay, I'm curious. What areas in your opinion were lacking in Coltrane's playing? You think Bergonzi and Garzone "have more control over more parameters of music, and their horns"????!!!! What exactly? I just don't see it(hear it) that way at all. Granted, both these guys are very fine players; but both are admittedly derivative to a certain extent. Yes, they do have their own thing; but had it not been for Coltrane's thing there would be no "thing". They are both good examples of post-Coltraneism. Not necessarily a bad thing. What's more they would be the first to admit it. One of the truely incredible things about Coltrane is that he still sounds and always will sound modern. He defined and still defines modern jazz tenor playing. I have spoken to some who had the priviledge of hearing Trane play live, and what they say is amazing. They were moved, and yes even changed emotionally, to an extent that was scary. His presence was hugely powerfull, even mystical. I understand how Coltrane's playing might be difficult for some to deal with. The power of his constantly searching sound and vibe can be overwhelming. Try getting acquainted with him through some of his gentler records. The "Ballads" album is a must. Some of the most beautifull and gentle playing one will ever hear. "With Johnny Hartman" another great one. Enjoy.
To really hear Trane at his most powerful, try "Live at the Vanguard." His interplay with Eric Dolphy is something of real lasting value. Although I am not a fan of Dolphy(his critically acclaimed "Out To Lunch" even does not suit me),there was the MAGIC at this session. This was Trane on Impulse. His Atlantic sessions are probably a better starting point. Although many of his recordings tend to lose peole, I still can't name a better sax man than he. By the way, the Adderly "In Chicago" on Mercury is hard to beat, without question;it's much better than "In New York"
You said a mouth full. Quite a critique of one of the great jazz masters. You must be an expert yourself. Can you please expand upon and explain some of your comments, in terms I might understand? What was so advanced about Coltrane's "harmonic conception"....What is a "3 & 4 tonic system", and why is it taking so many players so long to "catch up" to Coltrane's mastery of it?.....What is it to "move between equidistant tonal centers".....What, exactly, do you feel is lacking in Coltrane's playing and mastery of the instrument?...Please cite musical examples whenever possible......I'm gathering from your commentary that you are musician of some sort. That's wonderful. I can appreciate the fact that Coltrane is not your cup of tea. But I find it funny that you feel you are in a position to critique him, especially when many of the most respected musicians in jazz (Davis, Dolphy, Coleman, etc...)consider (or considered) Coltrane's music to be the high point of modern improvised music. BTW, George Russell (Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization) is probably more responsible for expanding the harmonic and melodic possibilities of modern jazz than anyone, and he actually feels that jazz just about died when Coltrane did. But I guess your studies have given you more insight (into Coltrane) than any of these other musicians might have been privy to, especially the ones who actually knew and worked with him. You must be pretty good. Please send me some MP3's of your playing, or e-mail me some of your compositions. I'd love to get a glimpse into the future of jazz. Thanks. Robert.
Hi. I knew I'd have some rebuttals to deal with after I wrote that this morning... ;-) As for "parameters" that were "lacking"- (perhaps 'lacking' is even too harsh a word, maybe 'missing' is a better word in this case). In my sincerely very humble opinion, there are other great tenor players that have more control over things such as tonal color, time (playing on, or ahead, or behind the beat), articulation, listening to the other musicians around them & reacting accordingly, etc. (Then again, maybe he was so moved to get the 'message out' that he felt justified in his slight sacrifice of the 'sum of the parts' philosophy.) All these things are important in my opinion in terms of being able to communicate that imperative non-verbal stuff that we listen to music for. If you go back & listen to Trane, his Main gift to us is through pushing the harmonic envelope. Which is what I love about his playing. ( I hate to say that because obviously he was such a great player and communicator emotionally, spiritually, etc.) - Maybe in order to go so far harmonically ahead of his time in his day, the 'underdeveloped' aspects of his playing were a price to be paid. (then again, obviously, it can also be attributed to "style") And actually, my favorite albums are the ones that go deeper. I do like the Ballads, Gentle Side, Johnny Harman, etc., but I think his big gift to us was the insight he gave us into tonality via tunes like Central Park West, Giant Spteps, Countdown, etc. And I love to listen to the era with Elvin & Mcoy. And the late stuff blows me away, sends a chill down my spine. I would include "Love Supreme" on my 'Deserted Island top ten list'. So, let me just clarify that, although he's not my favorite tenor player, I keep buying more of his music, already have a lot, and he ranks in my "top 5" :-)Thanks for the more friendly counter-post compared to the one I'm about to rebut. I'm afraid I've blasphemed the Church of Coltrane!! I hope I come out of this alive without being burned at the stake... Jay
A few of my favorite Trane cd's besides Soultrane and Blue trane are Giant Steps and Cattin w/ Quinchette. I hear a hint of Trane when I listen to Dexter Gordon recordings. Rollins is in top form on the Colossus album but Tenor Madness is also excellent.Try listening to Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt on Boss Tenors for another pair of greats at work.For late nights with your honey, Webster rules on Ballards.

Hello friend. I'm not sure if you're a musician or not. If you are, and if you're a jazz musician, then you know, appreciate, and understand what are called "Coltrane changes", and maybe were testing me. And no, the last thing I'm about to do is compare myself against anyone, especially someone who was so hugely important IMHO to the evolution of western music! So if you seriously do want to discuss Trane's "3 & 4" , or 2 for that matter- tonic systems, then we can certainly do so via email, I'd be happy to point you towards cd's, info etc to help you get acquainted. Let me know the extent of your harmonic knowledge & we can go from there :-) Also, it's not that it's really taking 'all' people time to 'catch up', but it's just a fact, that Trane's contributions to western harmony, especially in the realm of improvisation, are a nice little "litmus test" for developing musicians. A littel tougher than other things that come before it. That's all. Then again, he's not the first in western music to use the principles, it goes way back, but even in the standard repertoire there are numerous precedents like Richard Roger's "Have you Met Miss Jones" (the bridge, which is the middle section for you jazzcatsinNY), or even Cole Porter's "I Love You" speaking of "2 tonic systems". ( A bit of a stretch I know)
Okay, next point: "What do I feel was lacking in his playing and mastery of the instrument" as you ask. Well, to start, to put it quite bluntly, I dont think he mastered the instrument. If anything he mastered (and surpassed) the harmonic constraints of his day, which is what I love about his playing and his tunes. The other players I mentioned in my previous post, in my HUMBLE opinion, have better control over different and important parameters of music: time, tone, sensativity, phrasing, etc that I 'personnaly' find to be also rewarding, on top of the things that Trane did so well. As for musical examples, it's quite evident that Trane's control, (or his CHOICE to control, if I may concede a slightly adversarial side to my own premise), is not as advanced as say, Joe Henderson's , ummm on for instance, 'The Bridge' or 'So Near So Far', or many countless others ( more than ten actually, I guess that's not countless, I got carried away), in my CD collection. Also in the tone realm, Bergonzi just blows me away, what an amazing palette of sound he has, and that breath! and his tongue, woe, he has quite the technique, yes, better than Trane, in that realm, no doubt.
Surely you can't argue with me that Coltrane was as adept and comporable of a listener to the cues around him when considered against his peers and contemporaries? But yes, then again, he may have been so possessed of an imperative drive to 'get the facts out' about the beautiful gifts and discoveries he had to share with us that he chose to 'lead the conversation'- another matter of opinion of course. It's also my opinion that players like George Garzone or Joe Lovano have equalled Trane's harmonic innovations and in some respects added to them in their own way. Which is not to demean Trane of course, music evolves, collectively, thankfully.
Whether I am a 'musician of some sort' or not is irrelavent. And Coltrane IS "my cup of tea", big time, in many ways. I wish I could have met the man, or even seen him play in person, instead of the videos I own of him.
As for me being in a position to critique him: I'm sorry. I offered my heartfelt opinion of him. Maybe I did so because I feel that there is a somewhat unjustified pedestal he's been put on by history- and before you jump all over me for saying that- what I mean is this: History tends to overemphasise certain things at the diminution or exclusion of others, events, people, etc, and as history moves on, these things tend to become even more polarized, IMHO... So I guess my original post was trying to help others to see things in a more balanced, impartial way.
Yes, I agree with the greats you cite, he WAS a high point of modern improvisation-Harmonically-(sorry :-) )...
George Russell is a great man, a brilliant thinker, and yes, I'd agree with that statement, (as long as we don't overexagerate the point), and then again, that's something I thought I said in my original post...
Heh. 'Have "my studies" given me more insight into Trane than the other greats with whom he played with'? I doubt it. Enough said. BTW, What's an MP3?
As for the future of jazz, jeeze, I don't know. It's a great subject for discusion, or a new thread. I'd love to open up a nice bottle of wine & delve into that one with you. Off the top of my head, I'd say we're heading towards a more 'through composed' era of jazz. And as for specific improvisors who may lead the way, wow, that's a toughy, I hate to stick my neck out on that one, but if you want, I'll give it some thought & we can continue this. Sorry to be such a blasphemer, I REPENT!, I'll say a thousand "Hail Coltrane's" tonight :-) Jay
Whoops. I had just wanted to start a thread about my boiyyy.

The term 'mastery' i guess needs to be defined by those using it. for me coltrane mastered the sax because IMHO there isn't anyone out there who was able to communicate feeling like him. That is a mastery. when i hear that mofo play it's like he's singing - maybe off-key at times and maybe freaking out totally at other times - but that's part of the beauty of it and the soul of coltrane that will live forever. imho no one comes close to him in this regard: all the rest to me are almost forgettable - they play the notes beautifully, emotionally, have their own style but my appreciation for that pales in comparison to someone who seems to have a direct line from his emotions to his instrument.
Someone up there asked for recs and here are a few:
Ballads is good for beginners as an intro to coltrane, especially his syncopation on 'all or nothing at all.' i like his more 'modern' stuff when he really lets go of convention and frees himself to speak the truth. anything after 1959 starting with the classic 'giant steps'. check out 'live in seattle' for some real free jazz beginnings. I love, love, love the village vanguard 4 disc set. it's live stuff from consecutive days at the vv and you can really hear how coltrane just goes with his emotions by comparing the same songs on different nights. for die-hard fans only. admittedly coltrane went out the window with recordings like 'intersteller space' and his super-late stuff...he's so deep down there in the last years of his life i find it hard or scary to relate but you know immediately when you listen that this guy has found it. maybe that's why it was ok for him to leave when he did.
group hug?
group hug? Absocoltranelutely. I had no idea I would offend anyone. I thought I was offering my personal opinion as to why I like him, and why I also like other players, yes perhaps a little more in some respects, ultimately it's just me, one guys opinion. You know, like if we were all sitting around talking about who we like & why, that's all. " I like "x" player because of this, and I like "y" player because of that" etc. Personally I love the more out there stuff a lot too. The man definitely did transcend his instrument, and became a conduit or mouthpiece for some very high truths for us all to be exposed to. Things that are extremely hard to talk about. I can't take issue with anything you just mentioned. It's right.
I wonder, hypothetically, what he would have worked on, or improved on, or grew into in his own playing if he had lived longer. What would he have said if he was asked, "Where do you think your weaknesses lie?" Is that sacriligeous too? Maybe, just maybe, he would have found new fertile ground in other wholly different aspects of music, aspects that lagged (relatively) behind his forte, (which I still submit is primarily his harmonic contributions to composition and improvisation), that could further his communicative genius. Jay
jay anyone who has a 'couple dozen' coltrane cds is a-ok in my book as is nyjazzcat for being so passionate about the man. i too wonder how he would have developed had he lived. i really like (love!) the spiritual late late stuff too although it's not my favorite coltrane. i think that maybe alice coltrane's music offers insight as to where coltrane would have gone. i like her too but she's not her husband. i prefer tyner backing him up as opposed to her as well but it's all good. she's a contender i think too. i would give anything to have hung out at their house during some family jam sessions.
Just got back from Tower with the following:
- Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane-Jazzland 20 bit/K2
- Sonny Rollins/Saxophone Colossus-Prestige 20bit/K2
- Thelonius Monk & Sonny Rollins- " " "
- Cannonball Adderly- Something Else- Blue Note 24/96
The others were either out of stock or I'll wait until they're on sale. Got to go listen now. Thanks to all.
Hi Jay. I did not mean to put fuel on the fire here; this is a great thread, and I thank Kublakhan for starting it. Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions, and I don't begrudge you for having your own about 'Trane; even if I don't agree with them. Probably, if you would have just stated that while you can appreciate his genius, he is not your favorite, I would have declined to comment. But you also implied some expert knowledge with the termonology you used (equidistant tonal centers, etc...) to justify your position, and because of that, well, I guess I got a bit wound up. Yes, I am a musician, and yes, big surprise, I'm play jazz. I consider myself very well schooled; I'm currently working on my DMA in composition. But oddly, I don't care much for big complex words and theories when it comes to describing art, at least not most of the time. You see, I've always felt that theories (like the 2 & 4 tonal system, Lydian Chromatic, etc...) are ONLY applicable if the artist is actually known to have UTILIZED the theories while creating; at the very least there should be some documented proof that the artist studied the theoretical material at some point in time, or that he/she developed musical concepts that were the basis for creation. I guess a couple of examples of "theory in practice" might be Schoenbergs 12 tone system, and Charlie Parkers use of extended chords as a basis for improvisation. In both these instances (and there are others) the artist CLEARLY, by there own admission, had a discovery that led them to what they felt was a higher level of self expression. So, it would be correct, both musically and theoretically speaking, to analize the music of Schoenberg with respect to his 12 tone method of composition; at least the pieces of music which were spawned by this theory, that is. And it would also be correct to examine Charlie Parkers improvisations with respect to his idea of "extending the chords"....But there are many instances where theory fails miserably, and in the end, the explaination actually detracts from the art, and our understanding of how the artist opperated. I feel that the "theories" which have been developed to help describe and define the art of John Coltrane are an example of the latter. Having said that, I also feel that the only theory which comes acceptably close to being able to describe the method in which 'Trane opperated is the Lydian Chromatic Concept, which makes sense, since it is common knowledge that JC was a believer in the system, and studied it in his youth. But like most theories, even the LCCOTO fails to fully explain what 'Trane was up too; no theory can expalin the spirit of a man who was as moved as JC was to expaned the music in such a deep way. But I digress. I guess I'm just really trying to explain why I got so fiesty, and appologize for doing so. If you're interested in learning more about why most musical theories fail, and if you've ever wondered why most "theories" never seems to help students of music actually create, there is a wonderful book published by Dover titled "The Great Composer As Teacher And Student" by Alfred Mann. I guess the most interesting point the book makes is that neither Bach nor Mozart would have had any understanding of even the TERM music theory. They only understood musical practices, and it is those very practices which help us to better understand their art, not some very wordy theory created my an intellectual high-brow 100 years or more after their death. If you examine the manuscript books of the students of Bach, Mozart, and even Beethoven, there is no text, only music notation. No wordy theories needed, just practical examples of music. Maybe I should take their lead, as this post is already too wordy for most, including me. So let me just say once more that I apologize to all if I got fired up, and if I rambled. But it's all for the love of music. BTW, Coltrane did not really "expand" anything harmonically, at least not in a fundamental way; he did not create a unique system for building harmonies. His music, and harmonies, are all still based on the western diatonic system, and are mostly tertian. But he did contribute greatly to the vocabulary of that western diatonic system, and that is not any less important. Schoenberg is probably the only artist this century that actually "expanded" harmony. Regards. Robert.
Hi Robert,
Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I think you and I are debating a "Clintonism", i.e. it depends what you mean by "expand"....
Yes of course Trane's "music and harmonies are still based on the western diatonic sysyem, and are mostly tertian." By "expanding" harmony I did not mean to define the word as introducing a very different Fundamental system, ala Scheonberg, whom I will not make the mistake of 'dissing',lol,.. although.. now that you mention it- I'm more of a Berg man- to my ears, Berg better utilized and had a better command of the 12 tone bag, seemed like he breathed more emotion into it...
But, going along with your definition of the word, I'd include Messiaen in there too, and I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of and many I'm not aware of. Ive's might deserve a footnote- if not for his methods, maybe for the audible results...(sheesh). But as far as I'm concerned, western harmony has been 'expanding' for over four centuries.
Of course the 'theory' always comes in hindsight, whether in consideration of Baroque or Bebop vocabularies & methods, and yes that theory is always lacking, almost a two dimensional shadow of the truth, with holes in it to boot...But it does serve a small purpose IMO primarily in generalizing for immitation & assimilation's sake as a part of formative, 'ingestive' periods in the artist's development. But I, like you, don't care much for it,or at least know it's place in the scheme of true art & the creative proccess and 'innovation's' sake. I would also say that the compositions of Wayne Shorter, or the playing of Dewey Redman, (to stay with the tenor thing here) have expanded western harmony. Or the beauty of Bartok's compositions-mmmmm to name a couple off the top of my head. Also I have no debate against the fact that theories fall short, most definitely. In sum, yes, Coltrane "did contribute greatly to the vocabulary of the western diatonic system", i.e. he expanded it. And I still submit that one of his greatest contributions was the way he moved between tonal centers, which incidentally I do understand and utilize in my playing and writing. Another thing you & I have in common, is I also don't like to get bogged down too often in this sort of rambling & cerebral blah blah blah. It turns out I'm a musician as well. So where are you in school? Who are you studying with?
Hi Jay. Everything you state makes sense. It turns out that we have more in common than at first one might have expected. I'm so glad to see that there are other musicians surfing this site. What do you play? I am a guitarist. Right now I am working on my DMA at City University of New York; I study compositon with Edgar Granna and I am currently studying guitar with Steve Khan, although in the past I have studied with Charlie Banacos, John Scofield, and George Russell too. But my bigest influence as a musician has been from a little known composer named Roy Nitzberg; he really helped take the intelectual "blah, blah, blah" out of my thinking, and my playing. BTW, while I REALLY love 'Trane (big surprise) he is not my current favorite; that honor goes to (pianist) Bill Evans. Keep the faith. And thanks again Kublakhan for putting the focus where it belongs; on the music. Regards, Robert.
Ah, it really is a small world after all. Do you know Scott Reeves at school? we used to teach together at the University of Maine. He was the head of the jazz dept., my boss- a nice guy and good player. There were quite a few great Maine musicians who moved to NY, Ben Street comes to mind. You also may know my cousin, another bass player, Chris Dahlgren, who lives in Brooklyn and plays around town with some good players, sometimes in Maria Schneider's band among others. Anyway, after I left my teaching position, I came to the Virgin Islands, where I live and play jazz, guitar... I've been strictly playing for three years down here. (Which is why I have time to surf the net during the days)... It's nice, pretty lucrative, but lonely. I have a solo gig at the Ritz Carlton, just got home from work. I'm out there 3 nights a week, and also do private functions for corporate groups here on vacation/incentive trips. I like to get up to NY or Boston a few times a year for my own sanity, and may move back soon, or go to grad school in NY or back to Boston at Boston Conservatory. Sounds like you were in Boston as well. I guess I really should send you a cd as you suggested, as long as you don't compare me against any monsters! Jay
I just love you Coltrane guys. I am working on him but haven't arrived as of yet but I won't give up. Same with Schoenberg. I just haven't "gotten it"....yet.
Does it move you? There's not much that needs getting... The last thing you want to do is get caught up in the kind of banter that we've been involved in on this thread. Time to tape my mouth shut, make another pot of coffee, and do some listening. As Burroughs said, "Rub out the word".
Jay yeah some of Coltrane does move me and that is the point. There is more to his music than one might initially realize but some of it is so far out there. Sometimes music hits you like a thunderbolt and then you arrive. A moment of consciousness. If it didn't have some interest to me I would't even bother.
As others who have read my posts know, I've been a pretty serious jazz buff for more than 40 years, have taught a course in jazz appreciation, and have been priveleged to hear many of the jazz greats "live" in a club setting. The first time I became seriously aware of Coltrane as a force in jazz was in 1959 when I purchased my first copy of "Kind of Blue". I heard Coltrane live for the first time when he was in Seattle in the early 1960's, and I was not ready for him "in the flesh". Staggering power, extraordinary emotional power in his playing, and profound musical conception. Coltrane's music must be studied to be fully appreciated. His harmonic conception is a stretch for many, and it took me many years to fully understand what he was saying in his music. For me, one of the marks of a truly great jazz artist is the appeal of their music over decades, and Coltrane is in the first rank of "classical" jazz musicians. One of the most interesting stories about 'Trane in concert occurred when he was playing in a theater in France during the mid-1960's. The entire concert consisted of 1 tune, which 'Trane improvised on for 3 hours without a break. Regarding some of the previous posts: music and compositional theory can be very interesting -- for example, the use of modes in the music of Bill Evans and Miles Davis -- but jazz is a listener's art form, and it must ultimately move the listener in some way. There is nothing wrong with saying that Coltrane doesn't move you. Most of the popular "smooth jazz" musicians do not move me at all, probably because years of listening to more complex jazz and classical music has expanded my tastes. There are many roads to reach an appreciation of Coltrane's music. The most accessible numbers by 'Trane are typically his ballads, and there are several compilation CD's of his ballad playing. I still find it difficult to listen to some of Coltrane's "free" playing from the 1965-67 period, and I listen to those recordings only when I am trying to "stretch my ears". Overall, however, I am profoundly grateful that God allowed such a presence to visit among us, even if for a short time. His playing changed the landscape of American jazz, and in a broader sense the world musical palette.
campbell: Amen, brother. do you think there is any chance of finding that french concert you mention on lp or cd somewhere?
i was doing some reading last night and came across a beautifully written intro to a little book on trane. it was by branford marsalis and i'll just quote two sentences:
"Throughout his life, Coltrane was so engaged in the creative process that his growth as a musician closely paralleled his own personal and spiritual development. for this reason, there is an emotional depth to coltrane's music, an almost unearthly quality to his tone, that can leave the listener stunned, if not thoroughly seduced and moved in extraordinary ways."
i thought this was happening only to me! not so sound like i'm going to float away in my loafers over here but coltrane's music is the only jazz that can move me to tears. i love this guy's music so much i can barely stand listening to him. i hope all these posts about trane at the very least encourage some people to pay a just little more attention next time they hear him so perhaps they too might some day be able to appreciate him this way. it's all about taking small steps and then suddenly BANG, you're in. his early stuff with miles davis is not the music i'm referring to, by the way. that is the music which i would hear and wonder what the hell everyone was going on about coltrane for. little did i know what came later in his life.
little trivia fyi: there is a 'church of st. John Coltrane' in san francisco. these people are serious, too. (i'm not a member...yet). they have a website but i dont remember it off hand. it's listed in the search engines.
Hey, Kublakahn: One of the many jazz videos that I own has a short bit about the Church of St. John Coltrane. You were absolutely correct that the members of the church are serious in their beliefs. They feature 'Trane's music as a central element of their faith -- I've thought from time to time that I'd love to attend one of their services. (Probably a hell of a lot more moving for me than listening to a sermon...). 'Trane's early music, when he was playing with Miles, is probably the best place for newbies to start "stretchin' their ears". Then move on to "Giant Steps", followed by "A Love Supreme". I have never seen the recording of the 3-hour French concert available as a release, but I heard it WAS recorded. Another fine example of 'Trane and Miles Davis is the joint recording of their concert recording "In Stockholm", done in 1961 (or maybe 1962) on a Swedish recording label. Good stuff!!
I bought the Prestige box set before I knew Coltranes music and well before I was ready for it. Somehow I knew I was gonna be into one day. As stated above it hits you and that's it - you understand. This is, as stated so well by Sdcampbell and Khublakhan, a result of his absolute dedication and investment in the music. It's impossible not for me to hear this now in his playing, and his later stuff " A Love Supreme" etc...requires the same conviction from the listener. Excellent advice above also on how to enter into Coltranes world. Primal, elemental, beautiful.
Well I won't pretend to have assimilated Trane's work to the extent that some here have. I have only ten or so Coltrane out of a couple hundred jazz CD's. One of my favorites is a two disc set containing the complete Coltrane / Wilbur Harden recordings. The music is not as innovative as some of Coltrane's work (which is what may make it difficult for rookies to appreciate), but it is inventive and rewarding.
Just to round out my earlier post, there are two other Coltrane recordings that are good starting points for those who are becoming acquainted with 'Trane's music: his album titled "My Favorite Things" (where he made use of the modal style), and an album that he did with jazz vocalist Johnny Hartman (very rich, baritone voice). For those who want to learn a bit more about Coltrane, I recommend a jazz textbook by Mark Gridley titled: "Jazz Styles: History and Analysis". Gridley devotes an 18-page chapter to Coltrane, tracing his musical development and styles, and discussing the great quartet that he led. The book should be available in many college libraries and large public libraries.
I gotta chime in here one last time. I just bought a coltrane cd i'd never seen before: "Live at the half note" - it is really f*king weird. if you are a coltrane freak like i am you need to get this. from a 1963 session. the first few notes coltrane hits are seriously out-of-key and even draw laughter from the audience. he then goes on to stumble through a version of 'i want to talk about you' like i've never heard before. he starts hitting some marks and wins the audience over by the end and gets some hoots and hollars. by the middle of his next 'brazilia' coltrane's already out of his mind. if you know coltrane you'll recognize this as a very interesting set for the time. 'i want to talk about you' 'brazilia' 'song of praise' 'one up, one down' - this is a little gem and a must have if you are a fan of the man. not the greatest sound - very tinny and seems to be recorded from an LP - but eh, who cares? i picked it up at tower for $7!