John Coltrane

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John Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz musician and composer best known for his work on tenor and soprano saxophones.[1] Also known as "Trane", he recorded with Thelonious Monk and then joined Miles Davis's band, rapidly rising from sideman to jazz legend during his short recording career which lasted from 1955 to his death at 40 in 1967.

Coltrane performed in a variety of styles spanning hard bop, modal jazz, and free jazz, although it is never easy for the listener to peg a specific Coltrane song to a specific genre. Coltrane was known for his devotion to musical theory and practice as well as an intense interest in experimentation and musical exploration. His relentless quest for spiritual fulfillment characterized much of his later ouput, particularly his 1964 critically-acclaimed album A Love Supreme. Coltrane is generally regarded among jazz critics as being one of the most influential jazz musicians of his generation as well as one of the most technically proficient saxophone players of all time. Indeed, his skill and influence on the instrument has earned him a place alongside his elders and fellow saxophone revolutionaries Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Coleman Hawkins, and he is regarded as a major inspiration for contemporary jazz musicians, including Gilad Atzmon.

Background and early career

1955–1960: Hard bop

Miles Davis's band

1955–1960: Impulse Records

Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, Reggie Workman, bass

1960–1965: Classic quartet

McCoy Tyner, piano, Jimmy Garrison, bass. Elvin Jones, drums.

1965–1967: Free jazz/avant-garde

Coltrane expanded the band to a sextet, with the addition of a second tenor, Pharoah Sanders, and a second drummer, Rashied Ali. Tyner and Jones left the band, not liking the musical direction. 'All I could hear was a lot of noise' said Jones. Coltrane brought in his wife Alice on piano: thus his last band was a quintet.


  1. (26 April 2013) The John Coltrane Reference. Routledge, 4–. ISBN 978-1-135-11257-8. 


Martin, Henry, and Keith Waters. Jazz: The First 100 Years. 2nd ed. Thomson Schirmer, 2006. 274–284.

"A Sound Supreme: Geoff Dyer's Review of Ben Ratcliff's Coltrane: The Story of a Sound", Guardian Weekly, 25 January 2008.