How to Buy John Coltrane: The Essential Albums (2023)

In jazz circles, the slightest mention ofJohn Coltraneusually evokes an atmosphere of quiet reverence. Because Trane - as his students call him - is considered a deity whose extraordinary musical powers far surpass those of other mere mortals. Since his death on July 17, 1967, Coltrane and his music, aided by his distinctly spiritual and metaphysical dimensions, have inspired a kind of religious devotion no other jazz musician has experienced (there's even a church in San Francisco named after him). Francisco - St. John Coltrane Church). But the sheer volume of his music can be intimidating. So how do newbies start buying John Coltrane?

For those buying John Coltrane for the first time and wanting to start a collection from scratch, the following list offers a suggestion of albums that will hopefully serve as the basis for amassing an even greater body of work from the saxophonist. The albums are not ranked by merit - this is not intended to be a definitive overview of Coltrane's work - but by accessibility. Still, we haven't avoided some of Trane's more refined and esoteric works. You'll find them later in the list - suggestions to discover once you've got a taste for Coltrane and want to explore more.

So if you want to buy John Coltrane, the following albums are essential.

  • Nina Simone's "Blues For Mama" Announces Newport Jazz Festival Live Album Release

  • "'Comedy': Héctor Lavoe's Incredible Comeback Album"

  • Brandee Younger brings her amazing discography to NPR's Tiny Desk


Coltrane '58(Craft/Concord, 2019)

Coltrane's stint with Bob Weinstock's prestigious label, where he flourished in 1958 after overcoming his heroin addiction, is often overlooked. The Coltrane '58 5CD/8LP box set offers us the chance to reassess the saxophonist's state of affairs at a time when he was just beginning to make his mark as a leader. These recordings show how he moved on to a more progressive style of jazz that would eventually make him a pioneer. Presenting in chronological order all 37 songs Coltrane recorded in 1958, the collection traces his development and growth as a musician during a turbulent and significant year.
Coltrane '58can be purchased here.

Luxurious life

Click here to load the video

blue train(Blue Note, 1958)

Recorded in September 1957, this album marked John Coltrane's comeback after his heroin use led to his expulsionmile davistape earlier this year. After going cold turkey and successfully beating his addiction, Coltrane became a born-again man whose music took on a sharper focus, especially after he started working with him.Thelonian monk. When he was recording, he was still playing with Monk's quintetblue trainwith a sextet including the young trumpet genius Lee Morgan. All but one of the melodies are provided by the saxophonist, and it's the title track that stands out, with its catchy Clarion Call theme. The book is widely regarded as Trane's first masterpiece, and anyone looking to purchase John Coltrane for the first time should start here.

Blue Train: The Complete Masterscan be purchased here.

Soultrane(Prestige, 1958)

Arguably the choice of Trane's work for producer Bob Weinstock's indie label Prestige.Soultranewas recorded on February 7, 1958 and found the saxophonist accompanied by pianist Red Garland and bassist Paul Chambers, both of whom he knew from his time in Miles Davis's band in the late 1950s. The line-up is completed by drummer Art Taylor, who provides a swinging groove. This hard bop session consists of five tunes - though, remarkably, none by Coltrane - demonstrating his flowery 'soundsheets' style. As an entry into Coltrane's world, this solid, uncomplicated work, whose killer cut is a brutal deconstruction of Irving Berlin's 'Russian Lullaby', is a safe bet.

Russian Lullaby (Rudy Van Gelder Remaster)

Click here to load the video

Huge steps(Atlantic, 1960)

Recorded in 1959 when Coltrane was still in Miles Davis' band,Huge stepsrepresented a major step forward for the saxophonist, who, especially with the title track - based on a cyclical series of descending chord changes - perhaps captured the ultimate expression of bebop. Having pushed bebop to its limits, it's no wonder that Trane changed musical tack after this album and opted for modal jazz, which offered more freedom of improvisation. In addition to the classic theme song,Huge stepsThese include the haunting ballad "Naima", named after his first wife. Other memorable tracks on the album included the hard swinging hard bop songs "Cousin Mary" and "Syeeda's Song Flute".

Huge steps

Click here to load the video

A supreme love(Impuls!, 1965)

This masterful album, the saxophonist's four-part sonic prayer, dedicated to the divine Creator, captures the profound quality of John Coltrane's music as his career approached its peak. The music is often intense, feverish and trying, but paradoxically sometimes also blissfully serene. Trane is accompanied by his classical quartet consisting of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. Besides being arguably Coltrane's greatest album of all time,A supreme loveis also one of jazz's best albums - and it significantly spawned the spiritual jazz movement. While not as accessible as Trane's prestigious work,A supreme lovepossesses a hypnotic quality that can seduce even the most jazz-phobic listener and put them on the path to buying John Coltrane music.

A Love Supreme, Pt. I - Recognition

Click here to load the video

A Love Supreme: Lebe in Seattle(Impuls!, 2021)

John Coltrane watchedA supreme loveas a deeply personal artistic statement and rarely performed his masterpiece in concert. For a long time it was believed that only one live recording existed. In 2021, a second stage performance came to light, recorded at a Seattle jazz club called The Penthouse. Coltrane adds three more musicians to his usual quartet, including saxophonist Pharoah Sanders; together they giveA supreme lovean epic widescreen treatment that lasts 75 minutes. It's an important musical artifact, not only because it gives us a rare opportunity to hear Coltrane's iconic work live, but also because it shows how his style has evolved since the earlier studio recording.

To acquireA Love Supreme: Lebe in SeattleHere.

ballad(Impuls!, 1963)

Anyone who finds Coltrane's music challenging should give this cool little gem a listen. The saxophonist is in a laid-back mood and late into the night plays fairly chilled renditions of eight jazz standards, including Gene DePaul's "You Don't Know What Love Is."balladIt features the same musicians (Tyner, Garrison and Jones) who did the workA supreme love, but the music is more reflective and less intense. Nevertheless, it is still a classic Coltrane opus, dominated by a distinctive, investigative saxophone tone. IfA supreme loveis a step too far for first-time buyers of John Coltraneballadis much tastier.

my favorite things(Atlantic, 1961)

Many popular pop picks first encountered Coltrane during the single edit of this album's title track, in which he reimagined a popular tune from the hit musical.The sound of musicinto a vehicle for sharp jazz improvisations with oriental influences on the then unknown soprano saxophone. The full album version was nearly 14 minutes long, and in concert Coltrane was able to extend this to half an hour. It's the sonic cornerstone of a four-song album that contained no original material, but showed how Coltrane could transform standards (including "Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye" and "Summertime") into intense jazz meditations.

my favorite things

Click here to load the video

Coltrane(Impuls!, 1962)

Coltrane was in the middle of his modal phase when he made this album, which came out a year latermy favorite things. He wasn't averse to recording standards at the time, but his 14-minute "Out Of This World" - written by Harold Arlen and starring Johnny Mercer - is unrecognizable from the original. Ditto for a wild soprano saxophone reading of Frank Loesser's "The Inch Worm" in 3/4 time. However, both tunes embody Trane's freer approach to improvisation as he blasts over open-ended two-chord grooves. Van Trane's own tunesColtrane, the meditative "Tunji" anticipates the spiritual questA supreme love.


Click here to load the video

Both directions at once: the lost album(Impuls!, 2018)

One of jazz's most important archival discoveries in recent years is this long-forgotten studio session, unearthed 55 years after its 1963 recording. Performances range from a conservative take on the jazz standard "Nature Boy" to intensely exploratory original material – some untitled – showing that Coltrane's classical quartet was at a transition point; balances between known and unknown sound universes. However, he does not reach the sublime creative heights ofHuge stepsofA supreme love,Both directions at onceis essential to our understanding of an important lost chapter in the saxophonist's discography. Its value is best summed up by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who in the album's liner notes compares the album's discovery to "finding a new room in the Great Pyramid".

Both directions at once: the lost albumcan be purchased here.

Crescent(Impuls!, 1964)

Crescentwas Coltrane's ninth album for Impulse! Recordings. With its so-called classic quartet (Tyner, Garrison, Jones), it contained all original compositions and turned out to be a very spiritual LP, expressed through the haunting "Wise One" which opens with lush, rhapsodic chords by Tyner, setting the tone a soft tone for Coltrane's tenor saxophone expressing a beautiful melody. Also noteworthy was the album's second side, which contained two tracks ("Lonnie's Lament" and "The Drum Thing") on which Coltrane does not record a solo. Stylistically, it's a perfect way to get the listener ready for the year aheadA supreme love.


Click here to load the video

rise(Impuls! 1965)

This shouldn't be high on the How To Buy John Coltrane list unless you're familiar with the esoteric sound of free jazz. Butriseis an album to look forward to as you get used to the saxophonist's more avant-garde style. It was recorded six months laterA supreme loveBut it's radically different: Coltrane surrounds himself with a ten-piece band consisting of three saxophonists (including Archie Shepp), two bassists and two drummers to play one big piece of music. Two versions of the composition have been recorded and recent CD reissues contain both versions. While his collective improvisation reflects the growing influence of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler on his music, Coltrane nevertheless created a long unparalleled improvisational group composition.

Ascension (Issue I / Part 1)

Click here to load the video

interstellar ruimte(Impuls!, 1967)

Not for the faint hearted, but for anyone looking to buy John Coltrane at his most bizarre, this is the album for you.interstellar ruimtewas recorded in February 1967, just five months before the 40-year-old saxophonist's death. By this time his classical quartet had ceased to exist and Coltrane had experimented with other instrumentations. Here, Coltrane explores an extended musical dialogue with drummer Rashied Ali, alternating between tenor sax and bells, spanning four tracks ("Mars", "Venus", "Jupiter" and "Saturn"). Giving up orthodox melody, harmony and structure,interstellar ruimtedivided Coltrane's fans and critics alike. Decades later, it's still a disturbing listen, but it's a must-have addition to your Coltrane collection if you want to understand it better and feel the full force of its trailblazing genius.

Jupiter variation

Click here to load the video



What is considered John Coltrane's best album? ›

Widely regarded as Coltrane's masterpiece and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, A Love Supreme was recorded in 1964 and takes the form of a four-part suite: 'Acknowledgement', 'Resolution', 'Pursuance' and 'Psalm'.

How many John Coltrane albums are there? ›

John Coltrane discography
John Coltrane in 1963
Studio albums45
Live albums11
Compilation albums23
5 more rows

Where to start listening to John Coltrane? ›

  • "Trane's Blues" (album: Trane's Blues)
  • "Trinkle, Tinkle" (album: Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane)
  • "Blue Train" (album: Blue Train)
  • "All Blues" (album: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis)
  • "Naima" (album: Giant Steps)
  • "My Favorite Things" (album: My Favorite Things)
Sep 10, 2018

Is John Coltrane free jazz? ›

John Coltrane.

During his early career, he was known for improvised solos influenced by African and Indian music. Coltrane transitioned into fully-fledged free jazz between 1965 and his death in 1967, practicing a freer improvisation based on prearranged scales.

What is the most important jazz album in history? ›

Kind Of Blue - Miles Davis

While it is one of the top selling jazz albums of all time, many consider this to be THE best jazz album of all time. This may be because this unrehearsed recording session from 1959 marks a great turning point in jazz history as well as showcasing the top form of some legendary musicians.

What is still considered to be the greatest selling jazz album of all time Miles Davis 1959 record? ›

Kind of Blue is regarded by many critics as Davis's masterpiece, the greatest jazz record ever recorded, and one of the best albums of all time. Its impact on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever made.

What is the best guide to jazz recordings? ›

Richard Cook and Brian Morton's Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings is firmly established as the world's leading guide to the music.

Is John Coltrane a genius? ›

Coltrane was a true virtuoso. Unlike Mozart, though, he wasn't born a musical genius. Instead, he practised, practised, practised.

Where are John Coltrane's saxophones? ›

John Coltrane's Saxophone | Smithsonian Institution.

Why is free jazz often difficult to listen to? ›

Because there were no chords to follow, free jazz (for the most part) was atonal, that is, the music was not based on a “tonal system” like most other music (pop, rock, other styles of jazz, classical music, etc.). a. Because of this, many find the music unusual and difficult to listen to.

Do jazz guitarists need to read music? ›

Most jazz guitarist own a 'real book', which contains the melody (in notation form) and chord changes to a large number of jazz standards. You could in theory source or transcribe tablature charts of jazz tunes that you intend to perform, instead of learning to read music, but this is very limiting and time consuming.

What jazz guitarist forgot how to play? ›

Martino had been performing since the early 1960s until an aneurysm in 1980 left him with amnesia and no recollection or knowledge of his career or how to play the very instrument that made him successful.

What is the 1964 album that is Coltrane's best known recording from this period titled? ›

John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme in December of 1964 and released it the following year. He presented it as a spiritual declaration that his musical devotion was now intertwined with his faith in God.

Which John Coltrane album is considered his most extreme avant garde work? ›

Ascension (John Coltrane album)
ReleasedFebruary 1966
RecordedJune 28, 1965
StudioVan Gelder (Englewood Cliffs)
GenreFree jazz, avant-garde jazz
7 more rows

What is John Coltrane's best album Reddit? ›

Love Supreme and more specifically all of them. taken as a whole, as one complete piece of cohesive music that has to be heard in its entirety in the right order (like Dark Side of the Moon or Animals for e.g.), yes, this is the one. A Love Supreme (Live Antibes)

What is the greatest album in music history? ›

Here's our picks for the best albums of all time:
  1. 1. “ ...
  2. “Revolver” (1966) – The Beatles. ...
  3. “The Velved Underground And Nico” (1967) – The Velvet Underground. ...
  4. “Trans Europe Express” (1977) – Kraftwerk. ...
  5. “Blonde on Blonde” (1966) – Bob Dylan. ...
  6. “Sgt. ...
  7. “Straight Outta Compton” (1989) – NWA. ...
  8. “Electric Ladyland” (1968) – Jimi Hendrix.
Dec 22, 2022


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Margart Wisoky

Last Updated: 10/10/2023

Views: 6101

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Margart Wisoky

Birthday: 1993-05-13

Address: 2113 Abernathy Knoll, New Tamerafurt, CT 66893-2169

Phone: +25815234346805

Job: Central Developer

Hobby: Machining, Pottery, Rafting, Cosplaying, Jogging, Taekwondo, Scouting

Introduction: My name is Margart Wisoky, I am a gorgeous, shiny, successful, beautiful, adventurous, excited, pleasant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.