Happy Coltrane Day

Republished from last year, and every year


John Coltrane’s legacy is eighty-four years young today, and the shame is that if he had survived his demons he could easily be going strong this very moment.  I can’t add much to what already is a mass of knowledge, ideas, experiences and viewpoints, except for perhaps this excellent animation of his solo on “Giant Steps” (I used to practice this so much that the muscle memory is still in my fingers, thirty years later), and after, a selection of my favorite recordings of his, with perhaps a surprise or two:

  • Coltrane’s Sound; underrated but I think the greatest of his Atlantic recordings, intense and tough-minded
  • Duke Ellington and John Coltrane; the enduring hit is the duet with Johnny Hartman, but Coltrane is so subdued on that one.  With the Duke, he’s understated but speaks fully, with an aching edge to “In A Sentimental Mood”
  • Live At Birdland; this is the one that Philip Larkin hated, IIRC
  • Coltrane; with “Out Of This World,” “Soul Eyes” and “Tunji,” the best of the straight-playing Impulse! albums

One final note, don’t check for any graphic tribute to Coltrane at Google today, jazz is too hip for corporate engineers.


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.