Merely mention the name John Coltrane and you’re likely to evoke a deeply emotional, often spiritual response from even the most casual jazz fan.
Born September 1926 in North Carolina John Coltrane was always surrounded by music. He continued his musical training in Philadelphia at Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School of Music. He was called to military service during WWII, where he performed in the U.S. Navy Band in Hawaii.
After the war, Coltrane began playing tenor saxophone with the Eddie ‘CleanHead’ Vinson Band. By 1960 Coltrane had formed his own quartet which included pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison - eventually adding players like Eric Dolphy and Pharoah Sanders. The John Coltrane Quartet created some of the most innovative and expressive music in jazz history including the hit albums: ‘Africa Brass’, ‘Impressions’, ‘Giant Steps’ and his monumental work ‘A Love Supreme’ which attests to the power, glory, love, and greatness of God. Coltrane felt we must all make a conscious effort to effect positive change in the world, and that his music was an instrument to create positive thought patterns in the minds of people.
In 1967, liver disease took Coltrane’s life leaving many to wonder what might have been. Yet decades after his departure his music can be heard in motion pictures, on television and radio. Recent film projects that have made references to Coltrane’s artistry in dialogue or musical compositions include ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’, ‘The General’s Daughter’, ‘Malcolm X’, ‘Mo Better Blues’, ‘Jerry McGuire’, ‘White Night’, ‘The Last Graduation’, ‘Come Unto Thee’, ‘Eyes On The Prize II’ and ‘Four Little Girls’. Also popular television series such as ‘NYPD Blue’, ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘Day’s Of Our Lives’, ‘Crime Stories’ and ‘ER’, have also relied on the beautiful melodies of this distinguished saxophonist.
In 1997 John Coltrane was posthumously awarded the highest honour at the Grammys - the Lifetime Achievement Award.