WRTI's Essential Jazz Artist No. 5: John Coltrane

Feb 6, 2017

Even in a musical genre built on distinctive personality—jazz—the sound of Trane soars above. His tenor saxophone was unlike anything anyone had ever heard, then or since, and you voted him your No. 5 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

We get the feeling, either in “Giant Steps,” “My Favorite Things” (on soprano), or “A Love Supreme,” that John Coltrane was tapped into a current that was beneath, around, and above us all. Through Miles, Monk, and into his last years, he tapped in ever deeper. “My music,” he said, “is the spiritual expression of what I am—my faith, my knowledge, my being.”

Not familiar with Coltrane? Let your journey begin with his 1960 album, Giant Steps. Here's "Naima":

And "My Favorite Things":

  • Born in North Carolina, Coltrane grew up and studied in Philadelphia.
  • He lived, for six years, at 1511 N. 33rd St.; the house is a National Historical Landmark.
  • My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme are certified gold albums.
  • A street in the Universal Studios lot was named for him.
  • John Coltrane was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Special Citation in 2007 for his “centrality to the history of jazz.”

"A song for the ages" is what Kile Smith calls this recording by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

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