John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist, bandleader and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music. Born in this day, September 23rd 1926 in Hamlet North Carolina.
John Coltrane departed this mortal plane more than fifty years ago but he still remains a part of us, more alive than ever. His sound continues to grab the ears of an ever-widening circle of fans. His music legendary. He’s a permanent fixture in jazz culture as that of any 20th century musical giant. His saxophone sound—brooding, searching, dark—is still one of the most recognizable sounds in modern jazz. His influence stretches over styles and genres, and transcends cultural boundaries. The modern ideal of music serving a deeply spiritual, connective purpose. A defining facet of John Coltrane.
Jazz journalist Nat Hentoff, who interviewed and championed Coltrane, praised him more soberly. “By the time A Love Supreme hit, Trane struck such a spiritual chord in so many listeners that people started to think of him as being beyond human. I think that’s unfair. He was just a human being like you and me — but he was willing to practice more, to do all the things that somebody has to do to excel. The real value in what John Coltrane did was that what he accomplished, he did as a human.”
Timing had much to do with building Coltrane’s musical foundation as well. Being born in ‘26 meant that by his teenage years he was hearing the popular songs and sophisticated arrangements at the height of the big band era. As he approached adulthood in the mid ‘40s, the bebop of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie grabbed the ears of his generation. Johnny Hodges, the longtime alto saxophonist in Duke Ellington’s famed orchestra; and Dexter Gordon, the tenor-sax playing, first-generation bebopper, were two of Coltrane’s earliest heroes.
“I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world. I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good.” ~John Coltrane