Music: Calling on John Coltrane

by Bob Schwartz

A Love Supreme

The last post was about Gil Scott-Heron’s Lady Day and John Coltrane. Realizing now that some (most?) readers were not familiar with Coltrane, here’s some background and suggestions.

Music fans love to debate “the best”. There is no debate here. Coltrane was the best saxophonist, and some would argue, jazz player. Along with his gifts as an artist, part of that is how spiritual his music is.

He came by that spirituality when, in the midst of his too short career, he kicked a heroin habit by finding a Higher Power. The truth is that he had always been channeling that Higher Power. He just hadn’t been aware of it.

His most overtly spiritual work is A Love Supreme. For those who are not jazz listeners, this may be a bit challenging for a first stop. But at some point, please give this a listen. Bach and centuries of holy music have nothing on Coltrane.

A good place to start gently is the album My Favorite Things, which opens with the title track. All due respect to Julie Andrews (who I do like), this is the famous Sound of Music song in a whole other cosmos. While you’re there, stick around for the next track, a slowly lyrical Every Time You Say Goodbye, a perfect piece of love’s longing, Coltrane style.

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