This morning on my commute I decided to listen to an album I don’t think I’ve listened to for at least ten years, Living Space by John Coltrane. I am really glad I did. I was reminded at once why I love Coltrane in the first place. The opening track starts with a subtle meditation on a deceptively non-distinct melodic phrase which slowly builds some agitated intensity until the song erupts in some of Coltrane’s trademark fierce soloing.

A Coltrane solo is a wild onslaught of tense emotional fervor. The anxious oscillation of sometimes contradictory notes will often explode into a swell of ecstatic joy, moving the song forward into as yet undiscovered realms. A great Coltrane song seems like an exploration of some strange aspect of the universe, be it some nether-region of the cosmos or some deep territory of the mind not often explored. This is music that will make your mind wander. It’s a beautiful thing.

The extent of Coltrane’s influence is difficult to define. While listening to especially his mid-period to later work, it’s hard not to instantly recognize the obvious influence on artists like Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, and ohio jazz contemporaries like Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. However, we must keep in mind the chaotic times from which this music erupted, and wonder to make degree Coltrane’s innovations and ideas were an inevitability that he became a vehicle for delivering.

In any case, I’m thankful his music exists for us to enjoy and study.


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