His Life and Music Lewis Porter A definitive assessment of the life and work of jazz musician John Coltrane, based on new interviews with his colleagues and never-before-published material Description The Michigan American Music Series John Coltrane was a key figure in jazz, a pioneer in world music, and an intensely emotional force whose following continues to grow. His Life and Music corrects numerous errors from previous biographies.
It seems amazing that his period of greatest activity was so short, not only because he recorded prolifically, but also because, taking advantage of his fame, the record companies that recorded him as a sideman in the s frequently reissued those recordings under his name and there has been a wealth of posthumously released material as well.
Since Coltrane was a protean player who changed his style radically over the course of his career, this has made for much confusion in his discography and in appreciations of his playing.
There remains a critical divide between the adherents of his earlier, more conventional if still highly imaginative work and his later, more experimental work. Coltrane was the son of John R. Coltrane, a tailor and amateur musician, and Alice Blair Coltrane.
Two months after his birth, his maternal grandfather, the Reverend William Blair, was promoted to presiding elder in the A. Shortly after he graduated from grammar school inhis father, his grandparents, and his uncle died, leaving him to be raised in a family consisting of his mother, his aunt, and his cousin.
His mother worked as a domestic to support the family. The same year, he joined a community band in which he played clarinet and E flat alto horn; he took up the alto saxophone in his high school band.
During World War II, his mother, aunt, and cousin moved north to New Jersey to seek work, leaving him with family friends; inwhen he graduated from high school, he too headed north, settling in Philadelphia. Eventually, the family was reunited there.
While taking jobs outside music, Coltrane briefly attended the Ornstein School of Music and studied at Granoff Studios. He also began playing in local clubs.
Inhe was drafted into the navy and stationed in Hawaii. He never saw combat, but he continued to play music and, in fact, made his first recording with a quartet of other sailors on July 13, Coltrane was discharged in the summer of and returned to Philadelphia.
That fall, he began playing in the Joe Webb Band. In earlyhe switched to the King Kolax Band. During the year, he switched from alto to tenor saxophone. One account claims that this was as the result of encountering alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and feeling the better-known musician had exhausted the possibilities on the instrument; another says that the switch occurred simply because Coltrane next joined a band led by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinsonwho was an alto player, forcing Coltrane to play tenor.
That fall, he joined a big band led by Dizzy Gillespieremaining until the spring ofby which time the band had been trimmed to a septet.
On March 1,he took his first solo on record during a performance of "We Love to Boogie" with Gillespie. At some point during this period, Coltrane became a heroin addict, which made him more difficult to employ.
But he was fired because of his addiction in September He returned to Philadelphia, where he was playing, when he was hired by Miles Davis a year later. His association with Davis was the big break that finally established him as an important jazz musician.
Davisa former drug addict himself, had kicked his habit and gained recognition at the Newport Jazz Festival in Julyresulting in a contract with Columbia Records and the opportunity to organize a permanent band, which, in addition to him and Coltraneconsisted of pianist Red Garlandbassist Paul Chambersand drummer "Philly" Joe Jones.
This unit immediately began to record extensively, not only because of the Columbia contract, but also because Davis had signed with the major label before fulfilling a deal with jazz independent Prestige Records that still had five albums to run.
After he became better known in the s, Prestige and other labels began to repackage this work under his name, as if he had been the leader, a process that has continued to the present day. Coltrane tried and failed to kick heroin in the summer ofand in October, Davis fired him, though the trumpeter had relented and taken him back by the end of November.
Early inColtrane formally signed with Prestige as a solo artist, though he remained in the Davis band and also continued to record as a sideman for other labels. In April, Davis fired him again.
This may have given him the impetus finally to kick his drug habit, and freed of the necessity of playing gigs with Davishe began to record even more frequently.Hoping that the instrument would help him rethink his approach to harmony and texture.
Liebman/Lovano: Compassion: Music of John Coltrane review – a powerful tribute 4 out of 5 stars. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, is a American film directed by John Scheinfeld. Narrated by Denzel Washington, the film chronicles the life of Coltrane in his own words, and includes interviews with such admirers as Wynton Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Bill Clinton, and Cornel West.
However, the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, San Francisco, which is known as ‘Coltrane Church’ is the only African Orthodox Church, which include Coltrane's music and Spouse: Alice Coltrane. Among his many albums as leader on Prestige in the late ’50s are such jazz classics as Lush Life, Soultrane, Stardust and Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane.
In , the artist formed the legendary John Coltrane Quartet, featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Steve Davis (ultimately replaced by Jimmy Garrison in early ).
Find John Coltrane biography and history on AllMusic - Despite a relatively brief career (he first came John Coltrane | Biography & History | AllMusic AllMusic relies heavily on .