John Coltrane: Saxophone Icon

NPR’s Jazz Profiles has a great two-part documentary on John Coltrane. The first part covers his origins, his battle with heroin addiction, his early influences from Parker to Monk, to his breakthrough with Miles Davis on the sublime Kind of Blue. The second part deals mostly with the John Coltrane quartet and his pioneering work of the 60s, which combined eastern mysticism and free jazz with his solid bop and blues background.

When you listen to someone like Coltrane, the feverish intensity of his music almost seems inhuman. This snapshot into his life gives you a glimpse of the kid who had to practice constantly to reach the level of musicianship he’s known for, as well as the sage-like musical genius he became in the 60s. Rare early recordings, interviews and snippets from live and studio albums – good stuff. I learned a lot. Link to Part 1, Part 2, and the Jazz Profiles Podcast.

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    John William Coltrane, also known as “Trane” (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967),[1] was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He led at least fifty recording sessions during his career, and appeared as a sideman on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.

    As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in music history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.[2] His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.

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