John Coltrane’s Transtion

Coltrane 2On this podcast I look at John Coltrane’s transition from the epitome of a hard bop tenor saxophonist to a player who embraced modal and free form jazz. The transition took literally less than 2 years. He recorded 2 groundbreaking albums in 1959: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and his own Giant Steps. His work in the 1950’s featured the type of hard bop playing that was strictly tied to improvising over sophisticated and often difficult harmonic progressions. The composition “Giant Steps” is the epitome of harmonic complexity packed into a short form and played at a very fast tempo. The same year Kind of Blue introduced modal jazz into the mainstream and Ornette Coleman released the album, The Shape of Jazz to Come, which introduced a new free approach to jazz. Moving away from compositions with densely packed chord progressions to compositions with few or no chords was an epiphany for John. All these changes in jazz had a profound effect on him. His music post 1960 displayed the influence of Ornette Coleman, modal music, and an increased spiritual awareness.

John Coltrane - The Transition of a Genius

CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Blue TrainJohn ColtraneBlue Train1957
Moment’s NoticeJohn ColtraneBlue Train1957
Giant StepsJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
NaimaJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
My Favorite ThingsJohn ColtraneMy Favorite Things1960
But Not for MeJohn ColtraneMy Favorite Things1960
Inch WormJohn ColtraneColtrane1962