John William Coltrane was a pioneering American jazz saxophonist and composer at the forefront of free jazz.
Despite a relatively brief life and career John Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians inspiring them to experiment, take chances, and devote themselves to their craft. He remains one of the most significant and controversial jazz musicians in history.
He led at least fifty recording sessions and appeared as a sideman on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie, Duke Ellington and pianist Thelonious Monk.
In March and April 1959, Coltrane worked with the Davis group on the album Kind of Blue. Released on August 17, 1959, this landmark album known for its “modal” playing (improvisations based on scales or “modes,” rather than chords) became one of the best-selling and most-acclaimed recordings in the history of jazz.
He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.
Coltrane changed his style radically over the course of his career and there remains a critical divide between the adherents of his earlier, more conventional (if still highly imaginative) work and his later, more experimental work in which he played seemingly formless, extended solos that some said were tremendously impressive, and others decried as noise.
In the mid-sixties, John Coltrane played a show that would immortalise him; at a Jazz workshop in San Francisco, he played for an audience who would be the eventual founders of the Church of Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane. The Church is still running today, and Coltrane is on the official list of Saints.
About this Contributor
- Given name
- John William
- Family name
- Birth date
- Death date
- Contributor type
Listening to music can help us understand the past and changes to the society we live in. In this section, we have…
Discover a treasure trove of music education resources created by the experts at Minute of Listening.