John Coltrane was born John William Coltrane on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina.  He was later nicknamed “Trane” as his career progressed.  He is known across the world as an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and bandleader leading to his title of “an iconic figure of 20th-century jazz.  Starting out his musical career, Coltrane was influenced by his father: a part-time musician and a tailor.  Before moving to Philadelphia in 1943, Coltrane took after the clarinet and the alto saxophone, while later studying at the Ornstein School of Music.  

     At the age of 1945, the navy drafted Coltrane and he used his talent on the alto saxophone to play in the navy band through the year of 1946.  The following year, Coltrane switched to playing the tenor saxophone.  Around the late 1940s-early 1950s, Coltrane began playing in nightclubs and played background on various recordings of different musicians.  The first recorded solo of Coltrane is featured on “We Love to Boogie” by Dizzy Gillespie in 1951.  In 1957, Coltrane was fired by Miles Davis because of his abuse of drugs and alcohol.  After working with Thelonious Monk, John Coltraane became able to record on his own and advancing his art harmonically and rhythmically.  

     As Coltrane progressed through his career, he began to be known by his “legato phrasing.”  He was then able to use the technique of multiphonics to enhance his musical selections.  In the 1960s, Coltrane was able to form his own quartet featuring McCoy Tyner (pianist), Elvin Jones (drummer), and Jimmy Garrison (bassist).  In the years 1965-1967, Coltrane was able to work on his career by expanding his horizons beyond the traditional jazz as well as reaching more advanced audiences.  Coltrane’s life came to an end on July 17, 1967 in Huntington New York from inflammation of the liver.

Interesting Facts

– Coltrane was raised by his mother and close cousin because aunt, grandparents and father died within months of each other

– He played alto sax, clarinet, and tenor sax; influenced by Lester Young and Johnny Hodges

– Coltrane’s first professional gig at age 19 (1945) as a cocktail lounge trio performer

– Coltrane was able to evolve musically by working with Miles Davis

– Coltrane formed a quartet in 1960 (McCoy Tyner – pianist, Elvin Jones – drummer, and Jimmy Garrison – bassist)

– He was addicted to heroin, but quit cold turkey.  He became extremely religious during his withdrawal period.

– Coltrane suffered from stomach pains for weeks during 1967; he finally went to the doctor and was treated for inflammation of his liver and died a couple of days later.

– John Coltrane was given a posthumous Pulitzer in 2007

– He was canonized by African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane; the Saint John Coltrane Church in San Francisco still holds services weekly in his honor.


1957 – Coltrane

1957 – Mating Call (Tadd Dameron with John Coltrane)

1957 – Tenor Conclave (Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, John Coltrane and Zoot Sims)

1958 – Blue Train

1958 – Traneing In (John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio)

1958 – Soultrane

1959 – The Cats (Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Idrees          Sulieman)

1959 – Cattin’ With Coltrane and Qunichette (John Coltrane and Paul Quinichette)

1960 – Giant Steps

1961 – Lush Life

1961 – Coltrane Jazz

1961 – My Favorite Things

1961 – Bags & Trane (Milt Jackson with John Coltrane)

1961 – Africa / Brass (The John Coltrane Quartet)

1961 – Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane (Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane)

1961 – Ole Coltrane 

1961 – Settin’ the Pace

1962 – Coltrane Plays the Blues

1962 – Coltrane (The John Coltrane Quartette)

1962 – Dig It! (The Red Garland Quintet with John Coltrane)

1962 – Standard Coltrane 

1963 – Dakar

1963 – Ballads (John Coltrane Quartet)

1963 – Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Duke Ellington & John Coltrane)

1963 – Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane (Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane)

1963 – John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman)

1963 – Stardust

1963 – Trane Ride

1964 – The Believer

1964 – Coltrane’s Sound

1964 – Crescent (John Coltrane Quartet)

1964 – Black Pearls

1965 – A Love Supreme

1965 – Bahia

1965 – The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (The John Coltrane Quartet)

1965 – The Dealers (Mal Waldron with John Coltrane / Jackie McLean / Paul Quinichette / Frank Wess)

1966 – The Last Trane

1966 – Ascension

1966 – The Avant-Garde (John Coltrane & Don Cherry)

1966 – Mediations

1967 – Kulu Se Mama

1967 – Expression

1968 – Om

1968 – Cosmic Music (John Coltrane / Alice Coltrane)

1969 – 2 Tenors (John Coltrane With Hank Mobley)

1970 – The Coltrane Legacy

1970 – Transition

1971 – Sun Ship

1972 – Coltrane Time

1972 – Infinity

1974 – The Africa Brass Sessions, Vol. 2

1974 – Interstellar Space

1975 – Alternate Takes

1977 – Dial Africa 1958

1977 – First Mediations (For Quartet)

1978 – The Mastery of John Coltrane, Vol. 1: Feelin’ Good

1978 – The Mastery of John Coltrane, Vol. III: Jupiter Variation

1979 – The Mastery of John Coltrane, Vol. 4: Trane’s Modes

1986 – Coltrane Time

1995 – Stellar Regions

2014 – Art’s Blakely’s Big Band and Quintet

2018 – Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album

Various Songs


“ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY.” CHASING TRANE: The John Coltrane Documentary,
“Biography.” JOHN COLTRANE,
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “John Coltrane.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Feb. 2019,
“John Coltrane.” Discogs,
“John Coltrane.” NPR, NPR,
Ruhlmann, William, and William Ruhlmann. “John Coltrane | Biography & History.” AllMusic,
“Who Was John Coltrane? Everything You Need to Know.” John Coltrane Childhood, Life and Timeline,

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