John Coltrane; 1926 - 1967
Instead of trying to summarise Trane's music and his legacy I have shamelessly borrowed Wiggia's introduction from his post about jazz saxophone a couple of years ago....
"John Coltrane was way out in front when it came to pushing the boundaries in jazz, so far out he completely lost the plot in later life but fortunately the bulk of his work remains where it should be, at the top of the pile. Influenced by Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins and later Charlie Parker he was playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostik and Johnny Hodges before his late fifties association with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, a glorious period; but his debut album as leader, Giant Steps was a seminary album, it blew me away when I first heard it and the melodic chords on this were not just very difficult to play but constituted a new sound in the saxophone, much imitated later."
I have been watching recently the PBS series on Jazz by film maker Ken Burns. In the section about Coltrane the voiceover said that he was listening to a solo by another musician when he had what he called 'a divine revelation' which prompted him to give up heroin as well as alcohol and even cigarettes. He then began to explore other styles of music, mainly from India and Africa.
This from Wiki -
"In 1957, Coltrane had a religious experience that may have helped him overcome the heroin addiction and alcoholism he had struggled with since 1948. In the liner notes of A Love Supreme, Coltrane states that in 1957 he experienced "by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. " The experience and his subsequent interest in music from other cultures eventually led to his album A Love Supreme in 1964
If you don't have the album the liner notes from A Love Supreme are here -https://web.archive.org/web/20110608155911/http://www.jindustry.com/xtra/coltrane/html/saintjohn.html
The history of music has seen fans hero worship their idols, often being driven to hysteria: in the 1930s there was a 'battle of the bands' between Benny Goodman and Chick Webb which required Police to control the crowds trying to get in to see the 'contest' (from the aforementioned series by Ken Burns), riots in the early 1940s among the young bobbysoxers 'in love' with Frank Sinatra and the more recent mass hysteria in the US among audiences for The Beatles. But Coltrane must be unique in that a religion was spawned in his name!
Saint John Will I Am Coltrane. http://www.coltranechurch.org
"For there is nothing in this world which can help one spiritually more than music. Meditation prepares, but music is the highest for touching perfection." -Hazrat Inayat Khan