Night Lights Classic Jazz

The John Coltrane Songbook

John Coltrane revolutionized the sound of modern jazz and wrote a number of compositions that have become jazz standards.

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Four for Trane

Photo: Album cover art.

Saxophonist Archie Shepp's 1964 Impulse LP FOUR FOR TRANE was one of the earliest tributes to Coltrane's music.

Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane looms large in modern jazz history. A man and musician who overcame early personal problems to be a key part of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis’s legendary 1950s groups, Coltrane went on to take his place beside these jazz giants as a leader, a player, and a composer.

John Coltrane changed the way people thought about how to play, how to write, and how to live—quite an achievement for an artist in any field. Jazz scholar Carl Woideck says, “Decades after his death, young jazz musicians several generations removed from Coltrane are still inspired by his dedication to music, pursuit of musical knowledge, and pursuit of instrumental technique.”

Coltrane engaged this pursuit in part through his composition. A number of the tunes he wrote in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including “Naima” and “Moment’s Notice,” have become jazz standards. The John Coltrane Songbook includes interpretations of his music by artists who either worked with him or were influenced by him, as well as music from a couple of older jazz veterans who gave big nods to the impact he had upon jazz in the 1960s.

Watch guitarist Wes Montgomery perform Coltrane’s “Impressions”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXvdU7f-q7I

Music Heard On This Episode

Equinox
Gerald Wilson — Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings (Mosaic, 1969)
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Equinox
Gerald Wilson — Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings (Mosaic, 1969)
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Cousin Mary
Archie Shepp — Four For Trane (Impulse, 1964)
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Impressions
Wes Montgomery — Impressions: the Verve Jazz Sides (Verve, 1965)
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The Promise
McCoy Tyner — Echoes of a Friend (Milestone, 1972)
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Naima
Dexter Gordon — More Than You Know (Steeplechase, 1975)
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Moment's Notice
Buddy Rich — Buddy Rich in London (Mosaic Singles, 1971)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Giant Steps
Woody Herman — Giant Steps (OJC, 1973)
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Countdown
Kenny Garrett — Pursuance: the Music of John Coltrane (Warner, 1996)
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Like Sonny
Steve Kuhn — Mostly Coltrane (ECM, 2009)
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After the Rain
Dave Liebman — Joy (Candid, 1993)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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