Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews, ed. Chris de Vito

Wonderful cover art, by the way.

Probably one of the last books I’ll read in 2011, I actually worked my way through this book slowly. Not because it’s not interesting — though, if you’ve done any research on Trane before, you’ve seen some of it already, and there is a certain amount of unavoidable repetition — but because I was busy, and wanted to take the book slow.

The impression it gives of Coltrane as an adult is somewhat vague in some ways, but it’s a wonderful look at how others reacted to him… which I suppose is partly because of how Coltrane presented himself to the world, and partly because that’s what one ought to expect from a series of interviews at different times. After all, many interviewers were mostly interrogating Coltrane about how he felt regarding the way people interfaced with his music, which, given that Coltrane was/is not his music, makes it a kind of four way interaction: Trane, his music, the audience, and the interviewer.

For all that, I think the book is worthwhile for anyone who wants a clearer picture of Coltrane’s way of presenting himself publicly, as well as an encapsulation of how people were reacting to him at any give time. It’s a kind of illustration of fandom, and of the jazz world, and that’s worthwhile and interesting too, especially for an artist who we now take so very much out of context.

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