Friday, February 10, 2017


Woodshedding Monster
One of the undisputed giants of the tenor saxophone was John Coltrane. His total dedication to the mastery of his instrument of choice and his immense, innate talent made him a formidable force in the world of jazz during the 50's and 60's. It has been rumored that he would spend 12 hours practicing just one scale until he exhausted all possibilities with it and that 24 hour practice sessions were not uncommon.

English: A portrait of John Coltrane by Paolo ...
A portrait of John Coltrane by Paolo Steffan 2007.
(Photo credit: 
Brotherly Love
John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina into family life full of music. After graduating from high school in 1943 he moved to Philadelphia where he enrolled in the Ornstein School of Music where he was known for his unrelenting work ethic. In 1945 Coltrane was called to military service by Uncle Sam where he performed with the US Navy Band.

With his military obligations fulfilled Coltrane returned to Philadelphia where he played with jazz greats such as Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, and Ray Bryant. In 1948 Coltrane played tenor saxophone with Eddie 'Cleanhead" Vinson followed by a stint as alto saxophonist with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.

Kind Of Blue
In 1958 Coltrane joined the Miles Davis Quintet where according to him he was given "plenty of freedom" to explore his evolving approach to jazz improvisation. As a member of this group he participated in the recording of what is to be considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Trane, as he came to be known, along with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly laid down some of the best jazz saxophone solos ever heard and still studied today by up and coming jazz musicians.

Giant Steps
John Coltrane left Miles Davis and started his own quartet in 1960. However, during his time with Miles he managed record his own legendary jazz album called Giant Steps. The title tune became known as a groundbreaking jazz composition because of the new harmonic progression employed by Coltrane. The complex chord progression, later to be known as 'Cotrane changes", and the fast tempo made the song a difficult task even for serious jazz musicians.

The Trane Stops Running
John Coltrane died from liver cancer before his 41st birthday. One can only imagine what can of music Trane would have made had he'd been able to play another 40 years much like his contemporary Sonny Rollins has managed to do. His horn has been silent for many years now, but the music he left us with is thriving and continues to have a major impact on the world of jazz.

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett currently plays tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown, WV. and is an avid jazz fan.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

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