Saxophonist and composer John William Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina. Coltrane grew up in a musical family first introduced to music by his father who was a clarinetist. In 1938 his father, aunt, and grandparents all died within months of one another leaving him to be raised by his mother Alice. John moved to Philadelphia in June of 1943 following his high school graduation in order to be in closer proximity to his mother who had relocated to New Jersey by that time. He soon began on his first alto saxophone (a gift from his mother) studying at Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School of Music and was playing professionally in a lounge trio by 1945. A turning point in Coltrane’s musical career took place on June 5, 1945, when he first saw Charlie Parker perform. While working with Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, Coltrane developed a unique style of improvisation known as “sheets of sound.”
In August of that year Trane enlisted into Navy to avoid the Army draft and went on to play in Hawaii as a member of the U.S. Navy Band earning the rank of Seaman First Class before his discharge in 1946. After the war Coltrane played tenor saxophone in Eddie Vinson’s band and was turned onto a lot of new the things happening in jazz influenced by the work of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Tab Smith. Trane would proceed to play with Jimmy Heath, Dizzy Gillespie, and Johnny Hodges before joining the Miles Davis Quintet in 1955. It was during this time he continued to develop his three-on-one chord approach known as ‘sheets of sound’.
In 1960 John Coltrane formed his classic quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones a group that would later collaborate with Eric Dolphy and Pharaoh Sanders, among others. They made some of the most important albums in the history of Jazz and music; including “My Favorite Things”, “Impressions”, “Giant Steps” and “A Love Supreme”. In 1965, Coltrane released his magnum opus A Love Supreme, which many regard as the greatest jazz album of all time. His playing has inspired generations of artists, jazz and otherwise.
Filmed by an audience member at a 1962 performance in Stockholm. “I Want to Talk About You” was written by Billy Eckstine.
John Coltrane, tenor sax
McCoy Tyner, piano
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Elvin Jones, drums
His classic quartet perform a moving rendition of Billy Eckstine’s composition “I Want to Talk About You” at a 1962 concert in Stockholm: