John Coltrane died in 1967, the year I was born, but it feels like his music and genius was always a presence in my life. I do remember his Blue Train LP in the record collection in my childhood home. I have a particularly fond memory of meeting up with my dad in the original ‘Ray’s Jazz Shop’ in Shaftsbury Avenue sometime in the late 80s and him buying the long misplaced album again on CD. In solidarity with the old man and inspired by the Will Downing track of the same name, which was a favourite slab of 80s groove of mine, I bought Love Supreme.
In recent years Coltrane has come to the attention of new audiences. Firstly due to the 2016 documentary film Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary and its attendant soundtrack release. A film which charts his musical journey as part of Miles Davis’ band, then his solo career, the influence of his wife, the harpist Alice Coltrane and his decision to explore the avant garde, free jazz and spiritual jazz as his response to civil rights, Afro-Centrism and the beginnings of Black Power.
Added to this was the 2017 release of Late Trane, an album of re-interpretations of Coltrane’s work by the London saxophonist, composer, award winner and Tomorrow’s Warriors graduate Denys Baptiste. An album which gained critical acclaim and a JAZZ FM Awards nomination in 2018.
Then, in 2018, came the news that a collection of new recordings had been discovered which were subsequently released on Coltrane’s former label Impulse Records as the album Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album; a release which found its way into the mainstream pop album charts in the UK and is a longlist nominee in the The Return of the Illicit Groove’s 2018 Poll & Awards.
As a nod to the importance of John Coltrane to the world of music and a personal reflection of how many of his songs feature in the playlists of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show, we have put together an #AcrossTheTracks mix of Coltrane and Coltrane related tunes.
As with most mix selections the hardest thing is choosing the first track. However, during the research for this article we came across a short documentary, about the complexities involved in the composition and playing of Coltrane’s Giant Steps. So we start with that.
Listen to the John Coltrane: Lost Tunes & Feared Songs mix here on the Illicit Grooves Soundcloud archives.