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Famous Saxophone Players Part 3

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We’re onto our third post in our series about the most searched for saxophone greats. 

See here for our post on Kenny G, and here for Charlie Parker.

John Coltrane (1926-1967)

John Coltrane tied in second place with Charlie Parker, averaging 33,000 hits each every month. Let’s briefly explore his life and musical legacy.

Coltrane’s hero was Charlie Parker, whom he first saw play in 1945. Coltrane went on, together with jazz pioneers Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk among others, to take bebop further with the use of modes into the world of free jazz.

Born in North Carolina, after his father died the family moved to Philadelphia where he got his first sax – an alto. To avoid being drafted he joined the navy in August 1945, being posted to Pearl Harbor, where he was able to secretly join the company band (he didn’t have a musician’s rating). Discharged a year later, he headed back to Philly and got involved in the burgeoning music scene, ending up playing tenor with Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson in 1947. 

He continued to consolidate his growing reputation until he got a call from Miles Davis to join his ‘First Great Quintet’ in 1955.

Coltrane played with Davis and Monk too during this period, also releasing his own album in 1958, “Blue Train” which sports four Coltrane-written pieces amongst its five tracks.  Listen to the title track here:

Coltrane has been a ground breaker for the tenor saxophone and has heavily influenced all saxophonist after him. His virtuosic technique has set the bar very high for jazz musicians, and his jazz compositions such as Giant Steps and Naomi have complex jazz harmony that is the mark of a genius of his time and is often the subject of saxophonists copying his licks and phrases.

 Tenor Sax – Selmer Mark VI / Soprano Sax with Mouthpiece: Otto Link 5* Metal

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