John Coltrane

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About John Coltrane

The influence of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane remains unparalleled. Born in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926, he enjoyed a meteoric ascent in Philadelphia following his discharge from the Navy in 1946. Credited with innovating modal and free jazz, Coltrane was also distinguished by his deeply personal style and quest for spiritual enlightenment. Although he recorded a self-titled solo album in 1957, his brilliance was evident alongside trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk, with Coltrane's chordal improvisation inspiring critic Ira Gitler to coin the term "sheets of sound." Coltrane's knack for unleashing flurries of notes reached new heights on 1960 album Giant Steps. His quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones released the modal jazz sensation My Favorite Things in 1961, the same year he moved from Atlantic to Impulse! Records and began drawing on Indian classical music and the free jazz taking root in New York City. He worked feverishly over the next six years, developing an electrifying rapport with his working band and collaborators like Eric Dolphy and Pharoah Sanders as he pushed from 1965 stunner A Love Supreme (a through-composed suite that captured his search for the divine) to a series of albums that privileged improvisation over compositional frameworks. Coltrane carried on with these explorations until he succumbed to cancer at age 40.

Hamlet, NC, United States
September 23, 1926
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