Publication: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Calvin Wilson
Date: January 14, 2012
Of all the saxophonists who have found their sound in jazz, few have been as influential as John Coltrane. Almost 45 years after his death, his music continues to enjoy mainstream popularity, and his name retains its cultural capital. Recently, a commercial for an updated cellphone boasted its ability to “play some Coltrane.”
Coltrane became famous as a bebop practitioner, but he became legendary as an avant-garde visionary. Along the way, he served as sideman to fellow legends Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, and established a quartet — with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones — that set a standard for jazz artistry.
Two saxophonists who have taken the legacy of “Trane” to heart are coming to St. Louis. His son Ravi Coltrane will lead a quartet at Jazz at the Bistro this week. And Branford Marsalis, who covered Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” on the album “Footsteps of Our Fathers,” will perform with pianist Joey Calderazzo on Jan. 22 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.
“It’s hard to imagine jazz without John Coltrane,” Ravi Coltrane said. “Just like it would be hard to imagine jazz without Charlie Parker or Miles Davis. Because they weren’t just great players who existed in one or two periods. They were part of the progression of jazz — the moving of it, the shifting of it, the changing of it.”
The music of John Coltrane, Marsalis said, “is very similar to Beethoven’s music. On the face of it, it’s not very hard at all. No tricks, no secrets. Yet there’s a large amount of passion that you have to bring to the music to make it work. And he’s certainly had an influence on me as a player.”
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