The Story of a Sound
By Ben Ratliff
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374126063, 272pp.)
Publication Date: September 18, 2007
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A major work about the great saxophonist—and about the state of jazz.
What was the essence of John Coltrane’s achievement that makes him so prized forty years after his death? What was it about his improvising, his bands, his compositions, his place within his era of jazz that left so many musicians and listeners so powerfully drawn to him? What would a John Coltrane look like now—or are we looking for the wrong signs?The acclaimed jazz writer Ben Ratliff addresses these questions in Coltrane. First Ratliff tells the story of Coltrane’s development, from his first recordings as a no-name navy bandsman to his last recordings as a near-saint, paying special attention to the last ten years of his life, which contained a remarkable series of breakthroughs in a nearly religious search for deeper expression.
Ben Ratliff has been a jazz critic at The New York Times since 1996. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and their two sons. His New York Times Essential Library: Jazz was published in 2002.