cover image Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews

Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews

Edited by Chris DeVito, Chicago Review, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-56976-287-5

Born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, N.C., John Coltrane came from a musical family. His father played the violin and ukulele as a hobby, and his mother, who wanted to become a concert singer, played the piano and sang in the church choir. He didn't study music seriously until after high school; after a brief stint in the navy in 1945–1946, where he played with the navy band, he was soon playing tenor and alto sax and clarinet in a band that included Eddie Vinson, Red Garland, and Johnny Coles; he joined Dizzy Gillespie's band and by the mid-1950s was playing with Miles Davis before embarking on his own storied career. Although this collection of interviews—some of them published for the first time—is repetitious, DeVito's (The John Coltrane Reference) volume at least lets Coltrane tell his own story in his own words. The highlight of the entire collection comes from a 1966 Newsweek article in which Coltrane declares: "My goal is to live the truly religious life and express it in my music. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am—my faith, my knowledge, my being." (Sept.)