Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Introducing YouTube Series: "A Jazz History According to John Coltrane"

Today, I'm introducing a YouTube series in the form of a playlist. It will cover John Coltrane's career, from his humble beginnings as a musician in the "Melody Masters", a US Navy's swing band to his last released recording, the live "Olatunji Concert".

This project started with the desire to make a compilation for private use that could adequately represent John Coltrane's evolution as an artist. The reasons behind this endeavor were multiple: among a massive private collection of records, and a seemingly never-ending stream of fresh & exciting music, some tracks or albums I loved would remain dormant for way too long, and this compilation would have been a great way to reference them quickly. It also would have allowed me to share my passion for JC's work by being able to quickly recommend some tracks. Finally, I wanted to get a clearer picture of a variety of ideas I had in my mind about Trane's evolution, his quest, what it may have meant for him and how it spoke to me.

After selecting tracks from memory first, then adding and subtracting as the days went by, I slowly refined the "compilation". The selection will be quite extensive (about 50 tunes) and it's a representation of John Coltrane impressive variety. A new, unintended purpose of putting the list together then became obvious: demonstrating the amazing and unique way Coltrane never stopped pushing forward and reinventing himself, while many of his contemporaries were content to never stray away very far from a certain style as soon as they had achieved some sort of identity.

When the time came to think about sharing the result of many hours of work, I decided I would just share it online to whomever would be interested. As I pondered about how best to do so, I wondered if the choices I had made could be obvious solely through the selection of tunes and consequently I started writing small thoughts about each track in the compilation. By doing so, one of the first goals I had in mind when starting this project would be realized past my initial intentions.

My only wish is that through sharing this project, and doing my best to present the music under layman’s terms, people listening and reading this will acquire a better appreciation and understanding of John Coltrane's music, maybe even convince a few to dig further.

Any compilation is bound to have some tracks someone would deem essential, and although I have tried to include some of the most obvious milestones, my goal here was to show the evolution of an artist thirsty for absolute, and include a few lesser-known tracks and a few of my personal favorites in the process.

Thank you to the “Jazz Discography Project” for their fantastic cataloging work, jazz.com and their “Dozens” series for inspiration and continual insight into the jazz masters’ works, as well as the various sources for pictures I will be using (which I will do my best to give credit to).

I will try my best to regularly add new tracks to the playlist but sometimes, life gets in the way.


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