Two for ‘Trane
Two brief stories from Kelly Grime’s “Jazz at Ronnie Scotts” highlight the spiritual impulse behind John Coltrane’s epochal jazz career.
I went to the London concert in 1961 and it was quite obvious that after the Coltrane band had finished there was no real point in anyone else going on because everything that was going to be said had been said. More than anyone could take.Kelly Grimes
I went to the London concert in 1961 and it was quite obvious that after the Coltrane band had finished there was no real point in anyone else going on because everything that was going to be said had been said. More than anyone could take. I was introduced to him backstage but there was no time to talk. But I felt I had to meet him. So I rang him up about eleven o’clock in the morning and a voice came over the line, “Oh man, what do you want?” And in a very bright, callow youth voice I said, “Oh, excuse me Mr. Coltrane. I met you last night,” and the voice went, “Oh, maaaan, I can’t get any sleep,” moaning noises. And I thought, oh dear, what have I done, you know. So I said very quickly, “You and I have something in common, we have the most important thing of all in common apart from being saxophone players, we both believe in God and believe that life is purpose, you know, and life is short and you never know when you’re going to see anyone again and. . . . “ And his voice changed immediately. He said something like, “Stop by the hotel, come in and talk.” So I did. And I must have had about an hour’s conversation with him. Very, very serious conversation. With some music in it, you know . . . mouthpieces. He gave me a box of reeds. . . H was a very, very serious and aware person, that’s all. He must have been at the mercy of all kinds of pressure. Being a leader he must have been pulled in every direction by all kinds of people wanting to use him, that’s the feeling I got. But he was more than ready to talk to me for any length of time on spiritual matters. He’d been around a long time, he’d certainly been right through it, the blues groups, the rock groups, he’d tasted a lot of the . . . dangers. . . .
Classical musicians tend to dismiss jazz performances. I don’t know why. Because the great improvisations contain everything that any composer would be proud to have written—a melodic statement like a clarion call—development. The only time I heard Coltrane live it was the ultimate. I just can’t see farther than that. I listened about twenty minutes. Then I had to go out and walk around the block—it was too much for me. And I play the saxophone. Then I dcame back in. And it was still going on. At that level. Amazing.