A love supreme: happy birthday John Coltrane

Happy birthday to the jazz giant and saxophone colossus, John Coltrane, born today in 1926.

john-coltrane-757011Legendary sideman, bandleader, endless searching to break new ground, Coltrane’s long shadow reaches beyond his untimely death from liver cancer at the age of forty, and embraces his time as sideman with Miles Davis to his own groups with figures including McCoy Tyner, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones to his increasingly experimental work with Pharoah Sanders, and late recordings with his second wife, Alice, as pianist.

Difficult to choose a commemorative listening track, but I’ve gone with the opening to 1964’s Crescent; an exploratory, questing opening leads into a slow, stately articulation of the melody, punctuated by uneasy rumbles on kit, before stepping off into a brisk swing, fistfuls of McCoy Tyner’s colourful chords underpinning a bold, expressive improvisation from Coltrane that typically grows more expansive as it unfurls.

Happy birthday to a jazz great.

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