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Ben Ratliff
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
ML419 .C645 R37 2007

What was the essence of John Coltrane's achievement that makes him so revered forty years after his death? What was it about his improvising, his bands, his compositions, his place within his era of jazz, that left so many musicians and listeners so powerfully drawn to him? What would a John Coltrane look like now - or are we searching for the wrong signs?

The acclaimed jazz writer Ben Ratliff addresses these questions in Coltrane. Ratliff tells the story of Coltrane's development, from his first recordings as a no-name navy bandsman to his final recordings as a near-saint, and pays special attention to the last ten years of his lfe, which contained a remarkable series of breakthroughs in nearly religious pursuit of deeper expression.

In the book's second half, Ratliff traces another history - that of Coltrane's influence and legacy. This story begins in the mid-fifties and considers the reactions of musicians, critics, and others, asking: Why does Coltrane signify so much in the basic identity of jazz?

Placing jazz among other art forms and American social history, and placing Coltrane not just among jazz musicians but among the greatest American artists, Ratliff looks for sources of power in Coltrane's music - in matters of technique, composition, and musical concepts, as well as in the deeper frequencies of Coltrane's sound.

Quoted from dustjacket.