As happens from time time with inquisitive artists, I’ve fallen into a deep dark beautiful abyss. The abyss I find myself is the post- “A Love Supreme” music of John Coltrane. My guide through this is Ben Ratliff‘s gorgeous and highly musical book Coltrane The Story of A Sound from Faber press.
I’ve read a zillion music biographies and Ratliff’s exploration of the evolution of John Coltrane is one of the better of the bunch. The book is thoroughly researched, history of the subject is deliciously described and the musical impetus, context and ongoing influence is analyzed with exacting aplomb. It has taken me two months to read this book. Not because of its density or verbosity, but due to its continually thought provoking discoveries. It’s a “read two pages, think two hours” kinda thing.
I’ve never read any of Ratliff’s writing before, but reading this led me down the rabbit hole of articles posted to his excellent website.
Here’s a few that really got my mind ticking:
- A review of ZZ Top’s First Album
- An excellent appreciation of the most excellent Stereolab.
- A thing about John Coltrane’s Both Directions at Once album
- Liner notes to VMP’s repress of Miles Davis’ Sorcerer LP
Unlike a lot of other biographies of the jazz greats, Coltrane The Story of A Sound paints its prose with focus on Coltrane’s sonic out put. There are mentions of addiction, divorce, alcohol, personal relationships and spirituality to degree of how much each of these affected the creation and execution of Coltrane’s artistic goals.
As a result, I’ve been digging deep into the later era Coltrane catalog, including the flood of recently discovered recordings that have made their way onto my turntable as official releases.
I’ve got thoughts. Lots of them. Stay atuned.