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Coltrane : the story of a sound
Ben Ratliff
Adult Nonfiction ML419.C645 R37 2007

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Ratliff, the jazz critic for the New York Times, isn't interested in simply retelling the biographical facts of John Coltrane's life. Instead, he analyzes how the saxophone player came to be regarded as "the last major figure in the evolution of jazz," tracing both the evolution of his playing style and the critical reception to it. The first half of this study concentrates on Coltrane's career, from his early days as a semianonymous sideman to his final, increasingly experimental recordings, while the second half explores the growth of Coltrane's legacy after his death. Ratliff has a keen sense of Coltrane's constantly changing sound, highlighting the collaborative nature of jazz by discussing the bands he played in as both sideman and leader. (One of the more intriguing asides is a suggestion that Coltrane's alleged LSD use might have inclined him toward a more cooperative mode of performance.) The consideration of Coltrane's shifting influence on jazz-and other modern musical forms-up to the present day is equally vigorous, refusing to rely on simple adulation. Always going past the legend to focus on the real-life stories and the actual recordings, Ratliff's assessment is a model for music criticism. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Ratliff, a music critic for the New York Times, investigates the sound and legacy of jazz icon John Coltrane. Instead of offering a standard biography, he first tackles the development of Coltrane's style from his initial bebop to the modal, breakneck-fast changes of his middle period to his post-1964 explorations of free jazz. Though Ratliff provides a workmanlike discussion of his musical evolution, he adds little to the multitude of books on the topic. In a second, more satisfying section, he describes the legacy of the Coltrane sound after his sudden death in 1967. Ratliff begins with the near deification of Coltrane by such jazz disciples as Charles Tolliver, Billy Hart, and Frank Lowe and rock stars Carlos Santana and Iggy Pop in the late 1960s and 1970s. He shows how the Coltrane legacy nearly disappeared in the midst of the Wynton Marsalis-led mainstream heyday of the 1980s and finally inspired a new generation of jazz artists during the last 15 years. Ratliff's book complements the already extensive literature about John Coltrane and, though not essential, is recommended for jazz aficionados.-Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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