Night Lights Classic Jazz

Trane ’57: John Coltrane’s Pivotal Year In Jazz

1957 was a key turning point for the tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, then 30 and still in the throes of a debilitating drug addiction.

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  • Coltrane

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: Album cover art.

    Resolution: John Coltrane in 1957.

  • Coltrane

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    Photo: Album Art

    Coltrane, "Blue Train"

In the liner notes to his 1964 masterpiece A Love Supreme, John Coltrane wrote,

During the year of 1957 I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.

1957 has become Year Zero in the Coltrane legend, a key turning point for the tenor saxophonist, who was then 30 years old and still in the throes of a debilitating drug addiction that had led Miles Davis to twice boot Coltrane out of his group.

‘Sheets Of Sound’

Over the course of 1957, Coltrane would kick his drug and alcohol habits, make his first recordings as a leader, and work extensively with jazz master Thelonious Monk. His playing brimmed with renewed vitality as he began a rapid evolutionary development that would lead to the compositional breakthroughs he’d make in Giant Steps, and the technique that would come to be referred to as ‘sheets of sound.’

The Night Lights show Trane ’57 features:

  • music from John Coltrane’s Prestige leader debut, Coltrane
  • music from the critically acclaimed LP, Blue Train
  • selections from his appearance on hardbop pianist Sonny Clark’s Sonny’s Crib
  • studio and live dates with Thelonious Monk

We’ll hear Coltrane himself, speaking to fan August Blume in 1958 about his musical relationship with Monk and the changes he’d made the previous year in his personal life.

Watch Trane Live

During 1957 Coltrane also recorded with pianist Red Garland; you can hear some of their music in our previous program, Red Trane. Here’s Coltrane in 1962 performing a piece he first recorded with Garland in early 1958, “I Want to Talk About You”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR9ixWP-P9I

Music Heard On This Episode

Evidence
Thelonious Monk — At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note, 1957)
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album cover
Evidence
Thelonious Monk — At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note, 1957)

Notes: With John Coltrane on tenor sax.

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album cover
Straight Street
John Coltrane — Coltrane (Prestige, 1957)

Notes: Coltrane composition.

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album cover
Like Someone in Love
John Coltrane — Lush Life (Prestige, 1957)
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album cover
Speak Low
Sonny Clark — Sonny's Crib (Blue Note, 1957)

Notes: With John Coltrane on tenor sax.

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album cover
Blue Train
John Coltrane — Blue Train (Blue Note, 1957)

Notes: midpoint music bed

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album cover
Moment's Notice
John Coltrane — Blue Train (Blue Note, 1957)

Notes: Coltrane composition.

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album cover
Monk's Mood
Thelonious Monk — At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note, 1957)

Notes: With John Coltrane on tenor sax.

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album cover
Trinkle Tinkle
Thelonious Monk — Complete Riverside Recordings With John Coltrane (Riverside, 1957)

Notes: With John Coltrane on tenor sax.

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album cover
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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  • Jack B. Wilhite

    Hi!
    Does anyone happen to know why station KRML Radio, Carmel, California has closed their operation above Hogs Breath Inn and cannot be found on the air waves.
    Appreciate any info.
    Regards,
    Jack

  • David Brent Johnson

    Jack, that’s the station in PLAY MISTY FOR ME, right? There’s a Monterey Herald headline from a couple weeks ago indicating that KRML is “temporarily off the air,” but I can’t get access to the article. The blog post below says that they went off the air in mid-February because of technical problems:

    http://krmljim.blogspot.com/

    I’ll ask around on my jazz programmer listserv and see if I can get some more information for you.

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