John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 July 17, 1967) was a legendary American saxophonist. His bold, aggressive saxophone style was hugely influential in the avant-garde jazz scene of the early '60s and late in the free jazz scene of the mid to late '60s. Unfortunately, he died at a very young age in 1967, after a series of extremely experimental albums. His legacy includes being worshipped as a saint, and even by some as a deity, but more prosaically, he's still one of the most influential musicians of his generation in that it took at least two generations before sax players didn't automatically try to emulate him.
Albums by Coltrane with their own page:
Coltrane provides examples of:
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Venerated as a saint by the St. John William Church, founded in 1971. Since 1982 they are actually part of the African Orthodox Church.
- Cover Album: My Favorite Things is a collection of standards. This is common for jazz artists, but less so for the less conventional Coltrane.
- Crossover: His album with Duke Ellington was conceived by his label as an attempt to reassure his listeners that he wasn't going completely avant-garde, but both he and Ellington were such good musicians that the result is one of the best things that either of them ever did.
- Epic Rocking: While he'd always had tendencies of this, it really became his specialty towards the end of his life. He started with Ascension, which consisted of a single forty-minute track, and didn't look back. The peak of his use of this trope is with the album Live in Japan, where the shortest song is twenty-five minutes long and three of them are longer than Ascension, with two of them nearing an hour. The album is on four discs despite containing only six tracks.
- God-Is-Love Songs: Coltrane was a deeply religious man who had interests in several religions, among them Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. He incorporated musical sounds from these cultures in his own music and recorded an entire album, A Love Supreme devoted to his love for God.
- Impractical Musical Instrument Skills: Towards the end of his career, Coltrane began to exhibit a vocal version, pounding his chest to effect his voice during his occasional vocal spot.
- In Harmony with Nature: As he explained himself:All a musician can do is get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.
- Inscrutable Oriental: Coltrane's music became more spiritual and inspired by Asian traditional music from the Middle East and India during The '60s.
- One-Woman Song: "Naima."
- Patron Saint: See above. The Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco celebrates a three-hour mass every Sunday, incorporating Orthodox liturgy with improvised music in the Coltrane tradition.
- The Perfectionist: Had incredibly high standards for his music. He practiced for hours at a time, a habit that bewildered his bandleader Miles Davis, who could be arduously demanding himself. Coltrane would develop his technique in excruciating detail, sometimes searching for weeks just to find a mouthpiece that suited his taste. Some psychologists have hypothesized that this was a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder, while devotees have pointed out that such extremes may have been quite reasonable for a musician of Coltrane's caliber.
- Train Song: "Blue Train."
- World Music: Later in his career Coltrane's work became more inspired by Arabian and Indian music. He even named his son Ravi after Ravi Shankar.