SF Chronicle’s Greg Tate pays tribute to John Coltrane on his 80th birthday.
[McCoy] Tyner has said he knew it was time for him to leave the band when he saw Trane bleeding from the mouth while blowing and not even seeming to care. That degree of indefatigable discipline and unbridled passion can still render so many fans of the quartet speechless, enchanted, focused, uplifted. An avowed atheist and libertine friend once told me that when he wanted to hear God, he listened to Coltrane. He was hedging his bets that the religious ardor Trane’s music invoked in him would be deliverance enough for his sins.
Miles and Coltrane share a birthday. On the eve of Miles’ “fourthest” birthday, Miles greeted me home from work with a lovely bush in a rattan basket, so that “When you die and go away you won’t get lonely” (seems to be some Egyptian philosophy going on here). We then talked about life and death for a while, on the way to the park. Suddenly he stopped at a corner, looked around, and asked, “But daddy, why is our world THIS world and not another world?” Always knew kids ask a lot of hard questions, but was unprepared for this kind of cosmological probing.