John Coltrane: “Naima”

The musicians on Naima, above, are Coltrane on tenor, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on base and Elvin Jones on drums.

The folks at AllMusic do a nice job of summing up the artist at the beginning of the bios and only then jumping into the facts. Here is what it says about Coltrane:

Despite a relatively brief career (he first came to notice as a sideman at age 29 in 1955, formally launched a solo career at 33 in 1960, and was dead at 40 in 1967), saxophonist John Coltrane was among the most important, and most controversial, figures in jazz. It seems amazing that his period of greatest activity was so short, not only because he recorded prolifically, but also because, taking advantage of his fame, the record companies that recorded him as a sideman in the 1950s frequently reissued those recordings under his name and there has been a wealth of posthumously released material as well. Since Coltrane was a protean player who changed his style radically over the course of his career, this has made for much confusion in his discography and in appreciations of his playing. There remains a critical divide between the adherents of his earlier, more conventional (if still highly imaginative) work and his later, more experimental work. No one, however, questions Coltrane’s almost religious commitment to jazz or doubts his significance in the history of the music.

Here is the PBS page on Coltrane, and a memorial site.

Four pieces from Coltrane: My Favorite ThingsGiant Steps and On Green Dolphin Street

  • Carl–
    Nice spot-piece (and great video) on Coltrane today. That said, I thought you and your readers would like to know about my newest book on the Man himself: “Spirit Seeker – John Coltrane’s Musical Journey” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Set to debut on October 23rd, the book describes John’s struggle from lost boy to musical leader, from darkness (and addiction) to light. In words and images (Rudy Gutierrez’ incredible paintings) that reflect the depth of his joy as well as his yearning for inner peace, Spirit Seeker tells the story of how music and spirituality shaped one man’s talents and gave him the courage to share those gifts with the world. It’s a uniquely American tale that touches on race, jazz, religion and redemption, the power of Art, and how Coltrane’s early difficulties fueled his unique vision of the Divine (A Love Supreme). I’m the NY Times-bestselling author of several kid’s books devoted to musical subjects, and readers can learn more at my website ( or Facebook author page ( Keep those music articles coming! GARY

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