John Coltrane

1926-1967

1965 A Love Supreme live

Antibes July 27, 1965

1967 Duo w Rashied Ali

What seems to me (and to the late Peter Boothman, at least) maybe the summit of Coltrane’s recorded playing – although a very short solo that never strays far from the melody – the 1958 Miles version of Stella by Starlight:

What’s so good about it? Coltrane sounds like sunshine. Like a wise and gentle master speaking his heart. Just gorgeous. Maybe he never sounded so sunny or wise again. Even his versions of “I Want To Talk About You”, though lovely.. well, this incredible one, for example:

The superhuman, almost otherworldly virtuosity of the long solo cadenza is frightening, in a way. It sounds to me like blue sky – right up high in the blue sky, living in the heavens like a god, or aspiring to, Icarus-like. Here he is impassioned seeker, impersonal, occupied, intense, concentrating, not the resting, smiling master of the ’58 Stella, contentedly enjoying the sunshine, happy in his ‘station’ as a human. Maybe that’s why the 58 sunshine is so golden – he can be so perfectly and radiantly himself while keeping to the winding path of the melody. Simplicity and contentedness. After enlightenment, chop wood. 🙂

Or is it just an act? (…The truth of masks. The freedom of limitation. The Cult of Art)

The attraction of imperfection.- Here I see a poet who, like many a human being, is more attractive by virtue of his imperfections than he is by all the things that grew to completion & perfection under his hands. Indeed, he owes his advantages & fame much more to his ultimate incapacity than to his ample strength. His works never wholly express what he would like to express & what he would like to have seen: it seems as if he had had the foretaste of a vision & never the vision itself; but a tremendous lust for this vision remains in his soul, & it is from this that he derives his equally tremendous eloquence of desire & craving. By virtue of his lust he lifts his listeners above his work & all mere “works” & lends them wings to soar as high as listeners had never soared. Then, having themselves been transformed into poets & seers, they lavish admiration upon the creator of their happiness, as if he had led them immediately to the vision of what was for him the holiest & ultimate – as if he had attained his goal & had really seen & communicated his vision. His fame benefits from the fact that he never reached his goal. – Nietzsche, The Joyous Science, II, 79

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