"I've got to keep experimenting. I feel like I'm just beginning. I have part of what I'm looking for in my grasp, but not all." John Coltrane's music is an experiment in emotional expression. He consistently pursued new domains of musical... [more]
"I've got to keep experimenting. I feel like I'm just beginning. I have part of what I'm looking for in my grasp, but not all." John Coltrane's music is an experiment in emotional expression. He consistently pursued new domains of musical and spiritual intensity, and developed a style charged with pathos. Coltrane poured his entire material and spirit into every note; his whole being was inside every sound. Sometimes it seems like something more than simply sound is about to come out of the bell of his saxophone -- his heart, or his lungs, or the contorted figure of his soul.
Coltrane studied at the Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School, both in Philadelphia. However, his real education began when he started performing tenor sax with Dizzy Gillespie's big band, the Miles Davis Quintet, and the Thelonious Monk Quartet. He described working with these artists as "invaluable musical experiences...Monk was one of the first to show me how to make two or three notes at one time on a tenor." These masters of bebop and improvisation never inhibited his experiments on the stand; on the contrary, they encouraged him to push even further.
While some labeled him an eccentric and a poorly skilled musician, he continued to adopt and reject techniques in his relentless exploration of sound. He'd often go home after playing a three-hour set in a club and practice for four or five more hours. The word "devotion" doesn't even begin to describe the relationship Coltrane had with his music -- he was insatiable. Gillespie and Miles were devoted to playing cool jazz, but Coltrane ignored his contemporaries' mellow methods. His sound was fiercely and, at times, unbearably hot.
In 1960 Coltrane finally formed his own band and brought his inimitable style to fruition. With McCoy Tyner on piano and Elvin Jones on drums, Coltrane took his music to a new level. Jones in particular was essential to this development; rather than remain steadily beneath Coltrane's ecstatic permutations, he played on top of them. Jones' drums were never at the center of the music, but at its edge. And that was where Coltrane wanted him to play, for that was where Coltrane himself always played: at the edge of his own music and beyond. [show less]