Tuesday, August 7, 2007

John William Coltrane (1926-1967)

Sierra Club


Over all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe. . . That’s what I would like to do. I think that’s one of the greatest things you can do in life and we all try to do it in some way. The musician’s is through his music.


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Jazz saxophonist, born September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina. Died July 17, 1967 at Huntington Hospital in Long Island, NY. Coltrane grew up in High Point NC, moving to Philadelphia PA in June 1943. He was inducted into the Navy in 1945, returning to civilian life in 1946. Coltrane worked a variety of jobs through the late forties until (still an alto saxophonist) he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band in 1949. He stayed with Gillespie through the band's breakup in May 1950 and (now on tenor saxophone) worked with Gillespie's small group until April 1951, when he returned to Philadelphia to go to school. In early 1952 he joined Earl Bostic's band, and in 1953 he joined Johnny Hodges's small group (during that saxophonist's short sabbatical from Duke Ellington's orchestra), staying until mid 1954. Although there are recordings of Coltrane from as early as 1946, his real career spans the twelve years between 1955 and 1967, during which time he reshaped modern Jazz and influenced generations of other musicians. Coltrane was freelancing in Philadelphia in the summer of 1955 when he received a call from trumpeter Miles Davis.

Davis, whose success during the late forties had been followed by several years of decline, was again active, and was about to form a quintet. Coltrane was with this first edition of the Davis group from October 1955 through April 1957 (with a few absences), a period which saw influential recordings from Davis and the first signs of Coltrane's ability. This classic "First Quintet", best represented by two marathon recording sessions for Prestige in 1956, disbanded in mid-April. During the latter part of 1957 Coltrane worked with Thelonious Monk at New York's Five Spot, a legendary gig. He rejoined Miles in January 1958, staying until April 1960, during which time he participated in such seminal Davis sessions as Milestones and Kind Of Blue, and recorded his own influential sessions (notably Giant Steps). [
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on John William Coltrane.]

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