Mar 25, 2015
“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being…when you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hang-ups…I want to speak to their souls.” — John Coltrane
I was cautiously optimistic when I heard that a documentary about John Coltrane was being greenlighted for theatrical release. If any African-American jazz musician’s life story captures the sweep of the second half of the 20th century and the development of Jazz music, it would be Trane. So imagine my real joy when I learned that it was John Scheinfeld who would be directing and film.
familiar with Scheinfeld’s work from the theatrical documentary
The U.S. vs. John
Lennon which he directed, wrote and produced. It was an
official selection of the Venice Film Festival, the Telluride Film
Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the London
Film Festival and was subsequently released in theaters worldwide
and on DVD. It was also the recipient of the FOCAL International
Award for Best Use of Archival Footage in a Feature/Factual
His most recent documentary film, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? premiered in New York and played in theaters across the country during the fall of 2010. The film, for which Scheinfeld was nominated for a prestigious Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Documentary...and for which USA Today named him one of the Top 100 Pop Culture People of 2010...was released internationally in the Summer of 2011. He earned a Grammy nomination for producing 2005's Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE. Clearly, this is a man who can bring music to the screen in a big way.
As Mr. Scheinfeld sees it, the film will explore the global power and impact of the music of John Coltrane and will reveal the passions, experiences and forces that shaped his life and revolutionary sounds.
Shot on locations around the world, the film will appeal to a broad, worldwide audience that will be touched by Coltrane’s very human story of demons and redemption. One can only hope that it will be a film about hope, faith, optimism and the power of music to heal and to transform the world, much as Trane did himself.
Podcast 472 is my conversation with John about the upcoming film. He is interviewing the great musicians who played with and hung out Coltrane, many of whom are featured in the music that I have integrated with our talk:
John Coltrane – “Cousin Mary (alternate take)” from Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings. An alternate take from the sessions that made up the Giant Steps album in 1959. Coltrane on sax, Tommy Flanagan on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums.
Elmo Hope Sextet – “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” from Informal Jazz. Vintage sideman Coltrane, sitting in on a 1956 Prestige session, featuring Hope on piano, Donald Byrd on trumpet, Coltrane and Hank Mobley on saxophone, Paul Chambers on bass and “Philly” Joe Jones on drums.
John Coltrane - “Song of the Underground Railroad” from The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions. Trane shows his social activist side on a large scale session from 1961that augmented his “Classic Quartet” and featured Freddie Hubbard, Booker Little (trumpet) Jim Buffington, Donald Carrado, Bob Northern, Robert Swisshelm, Julius Watkins (French horn), Charles Greenlee, Julian Priester (euphonium) Bill Barber (tuba) Coltrane (soprano,tenor saxophone), Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, arranger, conductor) Pat Patrick (baritone saxophone) Garvin Bushell (reeds) McCoy Tyner (piano, arranger) Reggie Workman (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums).
John Coltrane – “Bessie’s Blues” from Crescent. The Classic Quartet on one of my favorite Coltrane albums circa 1964 – Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. This is a different take than appeared on Crescent and can be found on the Classic Quartet boxset on Impulse!.