John Coltrane

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary [Original Soundtrack]

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If you asked someone to make you a single-disc mixtape of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane's most important recordings, focused on both his creative innovations and abiding spirituality, you'd probably get something akin to the soundtrack to the 2017's Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. Directed by acclaimed documentarian John Scheinfeld (Who Is Harry Nilsson…?, The U.S. vs. John Lennon), Chasing Trane attempts to encompass Coltrane's life and career, from his early days as a freelance bebop musician in Philadelphia to his transformation into a deeply spiritual, avant-garde-influenced jazz giant. Not surprisingly, the soundtrack feels thoughtfully curated and while not exhaustive, offers a succinct portrait of the saxophonist. Rather than putting tracks in chronological order, here we get a more narrative structure with Coltrane's most indelible moments presented in a timely and emotionally gratifying manner. Fittingly, Scheinfeld and producer Harry Weinger kick things off dramatically with what is arguably Coltrane's most important recording, 1965's landmark "A Love Supreme, Pt. 1: Acknowledgment" off A Love Supreme. From there, they move backward to his propulsively swinging rendition of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby," off 1958's Soultrane, and later, they go forward again to his visceral rumination on the 1963 racially motivated bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, "Alabama," off 1964's Live at Birdland. We also get such essential recordings as 1958's "Moment's Notice," 1960's "Giant Steps," and 1961's "My Favorite Things." Admittedly, several essential sides are missing, including "Blue Train," "Central Park West," "Equinox," and "Naima," not to mention anything Coltrane recorded with Miles Davis. While these omissions mean that Chasing Trane is by no means a definitive collection, it isn't intended to be, and instead offers a moving portrait of Coltrane's ascension into jazz mythology.

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