“He once said he had a dream of a sound. And in the dream it was the best sound he ever heard. He promised he would dedicate his life to recreating that sound.”
-Alice Coletrane (talking about her husband John Coletrane)
In theory anyone who records and sells “music” has entered some sort of immortality. Discount stores and Amazon are flooded with one hit wonders and those who wonder if they’ll ever have a hit. Most musicians (despite the caliber of their work and style of music) have fans (if only a few) that will keep their creative efforts alive by continuing to play their CDs, tapes, and LPs.
But immortality how I like see it – is reserved musical artists who’ve redefined and reshaped their own culture of music. John Coletrane was such a person. I remember talking to the owner of a record store about classic jazz. He felt the problem with jazz now is that there were no new innovators. He felt everything being played/produced now was not better than what was played 40 years ago. Though I didn’t totally agree, his point was valid. The few jazz clubs that are left; usually have bands that play a lot of standards.
Enter John Coletrane
No one worked as hard, played as hard, or genuinely loved his craft more than Coletrane. However – it was his willingness to push his art form outside the box- to push past what folks were “used” hearing and to let his voice be heard spiritually and emotionally via saxophone.
This started with 1965’s “A Love Supreme;” through his last fully record album “Meditations.” I know folks who think Coletrane’s latter works sounded like a bunch of kids slamming pots and pans together and I know others that think it’s a work of genius. I could go into timing, Coletrane’s embrace of avant-garde jazz, dissonance, and use of overtimes. But that may bore you. Besides; none of that is what makes Coletrane immortal. It was his musically resiliency, his desire to create sounds that hadn’t been heard and his infusion of spiritually and voice. Every note played was an intimate poem given to the listener.