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Elijah Escobedo

John Coltrane
Merely mention the name John Coltrane and youre likely to evoke a deeply emotional, often spiritual response from even the most casual jazz fan. John Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina. He moved to high point in 1926 when he was only 3 months old. Coltrane lived with his grandparents, parents, and sometimes his cousins. His family greatly influenced his life by surrounding him with music as a child. His mother, Alice Blair Coltrane studied music and his father, John R. Coltrane, while working as a tailor, also played various instruments in spare time. His grandfather, Rev. W. W. Blair, was a priest at the AME Zion church. This church held the worship services that aided Coltrane to develop the skills that would later on make him the famous jazz player that we now know. Coltranes childhood was spent mostly at high point. He spent his first 17 years here and it was at William Penn High School where he began to play saxophone. He was known by his classmates as the smart, shy boy that dressed well. John and his cousin, Mary Lyerly, were at the top of their class and participated in school plays and festivals. In his free time he enjoyed roller-skating with friends. This all changed in the winter of 1938-1939 when his grandfather and father passed away within a few weeks of each other. His uncle passed shortly after in 1940.

Unlike other jazz men, Coltrane did not show any extraordinary skills in jazz when he was young. It was not until his late 20s when he started to develop into an amazing player. He joined Miles Davis first legendary quintet in the mid 1950s, but when John became addicted to heroin, Miles fired him from the band. To kick the addiction, he had his mother and wife, Alice Coltrane, lock him in a room and give him only bread and water. He overcame his addiction and said he had a religious experience. John said that he told god if he could overcome this addiction, he would try to make people happy through his music. John put together a legendary quartet that signed with Impulse Records which included: Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums, and Mcoy Tyner on piano. This group gave some of the most intense live performances in jazz at this time, as Trane started exploring with music he extended out his solos normally going over 30 minutes. There was one reported to be two hours long. In 1964, Coltrane's quartet recorded the masterpiece A Love Supreme, which Coltrane called his "thank you gift to God." For the last 3 years of his life, just after 1964, Coltrane started exploring free jazz. He became the figurehead for the free jazz movement, giving many young players exposure. John Coltrane died on July 16, 1967 at the age of 40. His death was brought by liver cancer while he was in Huntington, NY. Coltrane is buried in the Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, NY. Many say that when Coltrane died, free jazz died with him.

Works Cited

"High Point Museum NC." High Point Museum NC. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.highpointmuseum.org/John_Coltrane.htm>. "ISound." .com Show. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.isound.com/john_coltrane>. "John Coltrane Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.biography.com/people/john-coltrane-9254106>. "John Coltrane." John Coltrane. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.nndb.com/people/678/000026600/>. "WAER - John Coltrane." WAER - John Coltrane. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.waer.org/coltrane.html>.