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Who's Afraid Of John Coltrane?

aldevis

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It still sounded like a load of squawks, squeals, farts, belches, and burps joined up with running up and down random notes at high speed.

I mostly agree, with the exception of the term "random".
Still I love it, if I am in the right mood.
 

altissimo

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I don't think I want to spend years of listening to stuff like that to appreciate Coltrane, or Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker.
well if you regard listening to music as some kind of onerous chore, it's probably not worth the bother....
Can't say it took me years, I liked Coltrane as soon as I heard Kind Of Blue and Parker seemed to be no more difficult than Miles Davis when my mate first played me some Parker after we'd been to the pub..
of course this was long before I played the saxophone and I didn't know that this was supposed to be difficult music to be studied intently for years in order to understand it, I just heard people expressing themselves, just like Jimi Hendrix or BB KIng

It’s just music. It’s playing clean and looking for the pretty notes
 

Bolding

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452
I think it's very brave & clever to release theese ideas/tunes, as you said, it's not gonna pay his bills (catering to the crowd/masses), and therefore the purity of his intentions really stands out, it's not about money, it's not about feeling high or drunk, it's exploration, both of the saxophone & the mind. From my perspective, John was expanding our musical vocabulary, and hence our minds. - Up untill colemann & trane, all the saxophonist where only playing the sweet & bittersweet emotions, John revealed some of the less pretty sides of the mind, but perhaps shed light on some of the more seriouse & relevant apect's of us.

Great thread Altissimo, very informative, thanks allot :)
 

SaxDon

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664
That applies to any music, what I love one day can grate on another.

Jx

Amen to that. I've still got to be in the right mood to listen to the free jazz of Coltrane!


well if you regard listening to music as some kind of onerous chore, it's probably not worth the bother....
Can't say it took me years, I liked Coltrane as soon as I heard Kind Of Blue and Parker seemed to be no more difficult than Miles Davis when my mate first played me some Parker after we'd been to the pub..
of course this was long before I played the saxophone and I didn't know that this was supposed to be difficult music to be studied intently for years in order to understand it, I just heard people expressing themselves, just like Jimi Hendrix or BB KIng

It’s just music. It’s playing clean and looking for the pretty notes

"Kind of Blue" was kinda different :p in my teens insofar that the modal jazz playing on the album was far easier on my ears than the hard bop of Coltrane and Parker and particularly the free jazz of Coltrane. Even during my last watch of that Paris Coltrane gig I still said to myself "oh, for chrissake" a few times! I also liked Parker's work with Strings or whatever it was called back then. I didn't even particularly like classical music either at the time (which has also changed as I've got older.)

In terms of taking years to be able to appreciate that stuff I don't mean it was some conscious process or effort - i just got older, played more music, got more life experience and for whatever reason don't mind harder bop and some free jazz on occasion. We all take an evolutionary path.
 

aldevis

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I can embrace your post but I must disagree with this:
Up untill colemann & trane, all the saxophonist where only playing the sweet & bittersweet emotions

There was a whole bunch of R&B (ish) players that were honking and screaming and wailing.
We often forget that side of playing as an essential influence on jazz.

Coltrane played with the likes of Earl Bostic and Gene Ammons and I can hear that rhythm and blues influence in his most advanced explorations. As his "tonal" playing up to Giant Steps took playing changes at a very high level.

He is more anchored to the tradition than we usually think.
And in the MD quintet we can sometimes spot Dexter licks all over the place.

Note: I bought "My favourite things" on vinyl, yesterday. Keeping it warm for later.
 

altissimo

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There was a whole bunch of R&B (ish) players that were honking and screaming and wailing.
We often forget that side of playing as an essential influence on jazz
While I agree that the sonic vocabulary of free jazz was influenced by blues 'honkers' and Coltrane and Coleman both played in rhythm and blues bands in their early years, there's an essential difference between what they were trying to express and the more 'carnal' nature of RnB - blues was for going out and drinking and having a good time and blues musicians had to be entertainers. Coltrane was a shy modest man who felt uncomfortable with having to be a showman in blues bands, doing stuff like 'walking the bar' and all the other tricks of the trade that were expected of RnB tenor players. The jazz musicians of the post war era wanted to be taken seriously in a time when black people could be beaten or shot by the police merely for the colour of their skin. Not surprisingly, they wanted some dignity and respect for their talents.
Free jazz didn't start with Coleman or Coltrane, Lennie Tristano recorded two free pieces in 1949, although they weren't released until much later
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some kind of free playing had been going on informally at jam sessions for years - Archie Shepp said that he bumped into Duke Ellington in the mid 60's and Duke grinned at him and said "oh, you're still doing that old thing"
As I said before, a lot of jazz musicians were getting a bit tired of the 32 bar changes and were looking for something new. Charlie Parker died before he could find the answer, Miles got into modes, Mingus was writing extended compositions, Gunther Schuller, George Russell and others were creating 'Third Stream' music, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln were insisting on 'Freedom Now', Yusef Lateef was getting into 'Eastern Sounds' etc etc
Jazz diversified a lot in the 1950's and 60's, free jazz was just a small part of the escape from the great (and predominately white) american songbook
 
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Bolding

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I can embrace your post but I must disagree with this:
There was a whole bunch of R&B (ish) players that were honking and screaming and wailing.
We often forget that side of playing as an essential influence on jazz.

I understand why you disagree, i haven't been very delicate in my explaining. Ofcourse there must have been more like Trane & Colemann, that embraced all that music can offer. I simply only have theese 2 as a reference point, and i thought many others the same, and so i didnt think to credit all the ones before him, inspiring him, foolishly.

Anyway I'm sure that there was more than; sweet & bittersweet emotions, but all the Mainstream, big hits, old classics, you know, the stuff the big labels & media corporations showelled at the people, were all in the comforts of our conscience (hence, sweet & bittersweet). That is where i feel that Coltrane, 'broke through' to the public, with this, to me revolting kind of music, now he didn't invent the stuff, but he sure was many peoples first experience with it.

I feel that Coltrane was using his instrument & musicality, to help push the limits of music, it's not just comforting, reminiscant or sad to us. It's also expanding our conciousness about sound, personal fustrations and even the worldly situation, taking the 'tabus' of socioty in mind too, not just painting that pretty picture of the good things in life.
To me, listening to coltranes album 'Sax Impressions' and other somewhat similar, gave me a real insight in the human condition, the frustrations, the tragedy, the borderline suicidal feelings. All theese things is testament to me, that something in socioty, is, or was terribly wrong. Maybe he was disguising some really nasty words and feelings he wanted to express about "the worldy picture", but knew he never would have been allowed to speak the words on a "Globally heard" record, and hence expressed himself through the sax? That's how i interpret it anyway.

That is why i see Coltrane as one of the pioneers of revolutionary music, much as a musical-exploration revolution, but also a socioty wake up call type revolution, about human conditioning.

I hope that this clarifies my earlier, in-a-rush rambling.
 

altissimo

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Steve Lacy on inspiring John Coltrane to take up the soprano -
https://youtu.be/4oVOeL1iazs

there are various stories about 'Trane's introduction to the sop - he gave a lift to a musician who accidentally left his sop in the back of the car, Miles Davis bought him one - who knows.. but it's always nice to hear Mr Lacy talk...
 

peterpick

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505
many thanks altissimo for the thread, the excellent essay and the links. i think i liked coltrane from the moment i heard him, but it's all so long ago. i don't think he or shepp ever played 'free jazz', but i'd say pharoah sanders did at one point or another and coltrane became more abstract towards the end of his life. i come to jazz from noise, not the other way round, so 'ascension' was a defining moment for me; for all its weaknesses it has a thrilling intensity. personally i have no interest in playing 'like' coltrane or anyone else and i can see that his influence has been rather all-consuming for tenor players in particular. but what a transformation he assisted in in jazz, more or less pushing it to destruction. what's frightening about him is his sheer technical skill, surely. he had such courage. without coltrane it is hard to believe we would ever have heard albert ayler, or the art ensemble of chicago, or that i would be able to play in monthly improv nights upstairs in a pub in brighton.
 

Alice

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I love this thread! I'm not afraid of John Coltrane. I have some recordings on vinyl as well as cd which include him and Milt Jackson.... I think I have a recording with Miles Davis too. I actually really like his music and appreciate the differences in his playing style and the other saxophonists that I admire/worship.
 

Alice

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Anyway I'm sure that there was more than; sweet & bittersweet emotions, but all the Mainstream, big hits, old classics, you know, the stuff the big labels & media corporations showelled at the people, were all in the comforts of our conscience (hence, sweet & bittersweet). That is where i feel that Coltrane, 'broke through' to the public, with this, to me revolting kind of music, now he didn't invent the stuff, but he sure was many peoples first experience with it.

I feel that Coltrane was using his instrument & musicality, to help push the limits of music, it's not just comforting, reminiscant or sad to us. It's also expanding our conciousness about sound, personal fustrations and even the worldly situation, taking the 'tabus' of socioty in mind too, not just painting that pretty picture of the good things in life.
To me, listening to coltranes album 'Sax Impressions' and other somewhat similar, gave me a real insight in the human condition, the frustrations, the tragedy, the borderline suicidal feelings. All theese things is testament to me, that something in socioty, is, or was terribly wrong. Maybe he was disguising some really nasty words and feelings he wanted to express about "the worldy picture", but knew he never would have been allowed to speak the words on a "Globally heard" record, and hence expressed himself through the sax? That's how i interpret it anyway.

That is why i see Coltrane as one of the pioneers of revolutionary music, much as a musical-exploration revolution, but also a socioty wake up call type revolution, about human conditioning.

Bolding, I am enjoying reading your posts here and i'm wondering if your first paragraph is based upon knowledge of the record sales at the time or if it is based upon what we see now being churned out time after time on compilation albums.
I would love to be able to go back in time and experience this music first hand. I agree completely that Coltrane 'broke through' to the teenagers of the day especially. They wanted music which had nothing to do with their parents or of theprevious decade associated with war time. It was a freedom of expression which went hand in hand with the Modern Art of the period leading up and into the 1960s, the poetry and also the rejection of convention.

Quotes fixed Jx
 
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Alice

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If anyone is interested, this is the original album, if you want to read the blurb on the back.
IMG_1504.jpg
IMG_1505.JPG


Edited to remove dup Jx
 
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