Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – John Coltrane

John Coltrane

September 23, 1926, Hamlet, North Carolina – July 17, 1967, Huntington, New York.


John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist, bandleader, and composer, an iconic figure of 20th-century jazz.

John studied clarinet and alto saxophone as a youth and then moved to Philadelphia (1943) and continued his studies at the Ornstein School of Music and the Granoff Studios.

He was drafted into the navy in 1945 and played alto sax with a navy band until 1946; he switched to tenor saxophone (1947). During the late 1940s and early ’50s, he played in nightclubs and on recordings with such musicians as Eddie Vinson, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges. Coltrane’s first recorded solo can be heard on Gillespie’s We Love to Boogie (1951).

Dizzy Gillespie w. John Coltrane – We Love to Boogie

Coltrane came to prominence when he joined Miles Davis’s quintet (1955). He embarked with Thelonious Monk and began to make recordings under his own name; each undertaking demonstrated a newfound level of technical discipline, as well as increased harmonic and rhythmic sophistication.

John Coltrane – Slow Blues

During this period Coltrane developed what came to be known as his sheets of sound approach to improvisation, as described by poet LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka): “The notes that Trane was playing in the solo became more than just one note following another. The notes came so fast, and with so many overtones and undertones, that they had the effect of a piano player striking chords rapidly but somehow articulating separately each note in the chord, and its vibrating subtones”.

John Coltrane Quartet – Impressions

Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in jazz history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane.

John Coltrane – Equinox

In 2007, Coltrane was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his „masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.”

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