Born on this day in Hamlet, North Carolina, jazz great John William Coltrane (1926-1967) celebrated life with his saxophone. Playing with speed, power, and range, he searched for spiritual and musical freedom. His unique "sheets of sound" inspired others to play with passion.
"There is never any end . . . There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we've discovered in its pure state," he once said.
After a stint in the Navy in 1945, Coltrane played in Philadelphia and New York, with blues singer Eddie Vinson and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. "You can play a shoestring if you're sincere," Coltrane said.
Hired by Miles Davis in 1955, Coltrane grew as an artist and became known for an ever-evolving style. A master at improvisations, he would blow audiences away with his 45-minute solos. He pushed with spirit and fury.
"The emotional reaction is all that matters," he explained. "As long as there's some feeling of communication, it isn't necessary that it be understood."
With classic albums like the high-speed Giant Steps (1960) and highly-spiritual A Love Supreme (1964) Coltrane showed his power as a composer and musician. Digging deep, always true. His prolific creations, which urged others to take chances, changed music forever.
About his commitment to jazz, he said, "My music is the spiritual expression of what I am, my faith, my knowledge, my being."
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