About John Coltrane Essay Research Paper James

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About John Coltrane Essay, Research Paper James C. Hall COLTRANE, JOHN (1926-1967), saxophonist, composer, and iconic figure. John Coltrane’s immersion in modern jazz took place in bands led by Eddie Vinson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Johnny Hodges. In 1955 he joined the Miles Davis quintet and was soon identified as one of the most talented tenor saxophonists of the era. The story of Coltrane becoming a major African American cultural icon really began, however, in 1957. In that year he underwent a spiritual "conversion" concomitant with his overcoming a drug addiction. A brief but salient collaboration with Thelonius Monk followed and Coltrane was on his way to becoming one of the major innovators in jazz. Associated with the radical improvisatory style called

"Free Jazz" (or pejoratively "anti-jazz"), Coltrane’s own contribution was sometimes referred to as "sheets of sound," a lightning fast style of improvisation, with great attention given to melodic freedom. His mid-1960s recordings were increasingly complex and dense, often reflecting an interest in Eastern and African music, and were marked by radical experimentation in instrumentation. Coltrane died at age forty of a liver ailment. Coltrane had a major impact on literary artists who came of age in the 1960s. Kimberly Benston has suggested that the "Coltrane poem" exists as a distinct genre within contemporary African American literature. Coltrane’s premature death has generated a most compelling body of elegies. There is no question

that at some level many artists were affected by his creativity and genius, but the evidence suggests that Coltrane’s spirituality as much as his musicianship created disciples. Coltrane’s monumental 1964 work A Love Supreme became a kind of musical scripture to many poets, novelists, and playwrights. His commitment to experimentation, his crosscultural interests, in addition to his search for a life contrary to the sterility of the mainstream, made Coltrane a hero to a generation whose hopes were nurtured by the energy of the Black Arts movement. See also: Art Lange and Nathaniel Mackey, Moment’s Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose, 1993. Eric Nisenson, Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest. 1993. From The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Ed. William L.

Andrews, Frances Foster Smith and Trudier Harris. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Copyright ? 1997 by Oxford University Press. Kimberly W. Benston The power of music … to unfix and as it were clap wings to solid nature, interprets the riddle of Orpheus—Emerson, "History" Late Coltrane. Those ecstatic ebullitions, attacks on expectation and consciousness, furied emotiveness: all this we yet hear, possess as records of a fierce and visionary askesis, of a quest for cosmic knowledge and salvation. Through a passion of innovation, John Coltrane perfected his own calculus of musical impossibility–for him, the world became regenerated inwardly by the musical afflatus. The power of Trane was apparent from his first sessions with Miles Davis in 1955 (vide

"Ah-Leu-Cha"). But those awesome manifestations of the Coltrane genius–the late (post-1962) compositions–come after many often tortuous dissolutions, reformations, and recrystallizations of approach as the "heaviest spirit" (Imamu Baraka’s encomium) traveled the road from apprentice to rebel to creative master. Ultimately, passages in Trane’s music became so bright and so piercing that the sounds seemed to be words, or cries deeper than words. He discerned or discovered for Afro-American music what Rilke called "the language where languages end." Music became the externalization of the telos within; it reflected Trane’s attempt to respond with fidelity to the incognito name and nature of our universe. In turn, as he carried his horn in