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John Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist, bandleader and composer, and is an iconic figure of 20th century jazz.
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John Coltrane was born September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he played in nightclubs and on recordings with such musicians as Dizzy Gillespie,
"You can play a shoestring if you're sincere."
Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges. Coltrane's first recorded solo can be heard on Gillespie's "We Love to Boogie" (1951). Coltrane came to prominence when he joined Miles Davis's quintet in 1955. He died from liver cancer on July 17, 1967, in Huntington, Long Island, New York.
A revolutionary and groundbreaking jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina.
It's far from an overstatement to say that Coltrane was destined to be a musician. He was surrounded by music as a child. His father, John R. Coltrane, kept his family fed as a tailor, but had a passion for music. He played several instruments, and his interests fueled his son's love for music.
Coltrane's first exposure to jazz came through the records of Count Basie and Lester Young. By the age of 13, Coltrane had picked up the saxophone, and almost from the moment he first started playing, it was apparent he had a talent for it. The young musician loved to imitate the sounds of Charlie Parker and Johnny Hodges.
Family life took a tragic turn in 1939 when Coltrane's father, grandparents and uncle died, leaving the household to be run by his mother, Alice, who found work as a domestic servant. Financial struggles defined this period for Coltrane, and eventually his mother and few other family members moved to New Jersey in the hopes of finding a better paycheck. Coltrane remained in North Carolina, living with family friends until he graduated from high school.
In 1943, he too moved north, to Philadelphia to make a go of it as a musician. For a short time he studied music at the Granoff Studios as well as the Ornstein School of Music. But with the country in the throes of war, Coltrane was called to duty and served a year in a Navy band in Hawaii. It was during his service, in fact, that Coltrane made his first recording, with a quartet of fellow sailors.
Upon his return to civilian life in the summer of 1946, Coltrane landed back in Philadelphia, where, over the next several years, he proceeded to hook up with a number of jazz bands.
One of the earliest was a group led by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, with whom Coltrane played tenor sax. Later he hooked up with Jimmy Heath's band, where the young musician began to fully explore his experimental side.
Then in the fall of 1949 Coltrane signed on with a big band led by Dizzy Gillespie, remaining with the group for the next year and a half.
Coltrane had started to earn a name for himself. But as the 1950s took a shape, he also began to experiment with drugs, mainly heroin. His talent earned him jobs, but his addictions often ended them prematurely. In 1954, Duke Ellington brought him on to temporarily replace Johnny Hodges, but soon fired him because of his drug dependency.
A year after losing a position in Ellington's band, Coltrane rebounded with another big break when Miles Davis asked him to join his group, the Miles Davis Quintet.
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