Giant Steps: Jazz Greats
Courtesy of Charles Stuart.
Growing up in a family where religion and music were highly valued, John Coltrane became a professional musician after being posted in Hawaii during WWII, where he played the clarinet in the military band. Switching to tenor saxophone, his virtuosic style landed him a spot in Dizzie Gillespie's big band, after which he went on to collaborate with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Coltrane started his own band in 1960 and began producing music that was characterized by aggressive, fragmented solos and group improvisation. Embracing experimental styles and an avant-garde technique, Coltrane pushed the limits of jazz and became famous both for his instrumental skill and his improvisational genius. Coltrane died at age forty, at the height of his powers as an instrumentalist and bandleader, in the midst of exploring avant-garde jazz, an experiment cut tragically short by cancer.