As the semester winds to a close, it’s final-paper-time for my fellow graduate students in the Jazz History and Research M.A. program at Rutgers-Newark, the illustrious university from which I am about to graduate. Some of them are wrapping up Dr. Lewis Porter’s semester-long course on the life and music of John Coltrane, the subject of Dr. Porter’s definitive biography (a must-read for jazz enthusiasts of any stripe!)

Bill Graham is one such student, and is looking to understand the impact that Coltrane has had on everyday people who listen to his music for his final project. As a part of this exploration, he’d like to hear from you about your memorable experiences with Coltrane’s music.

Here’s how Bill explains it:

Coltrane lovers, here is a chance for you to bare your souls. I am interested in how the music of John Coltrane has changed your life. Tell us your stories about how Trane came into your life, how his music makes your daily living more livable, funny anecdotes, anything you like, as long as it’s from the heart. I’ll be using your responses in a research paper. No information beyond what you share will be used. Your story may be as simple as the following:

One of the first hints that there was something different about Coltrane’s music came to me when I was working at a job  polishing silverware at merchandise store. I was setting on the showroom floor polishing away, while listening to Coltrane’s tune “The Promise,” on headphones.  All of sudden, for some reason that I can’t explain to this day, I started screaming at the top of my voice. I don’t know how it happened, but before I knew anything I had lost it. I needed to be slapped.

Let us hear your testimonials. Come one – come all!

The experience that comes to mind for me is from my freshman year in college, playing “In A Sentimental Mood” with a small group. The pianist had hipped me to the recording of it from the Duke Ellington and John Coltrane album, and I was listening to it nonstop trying to emulate Trane’s phrasing on the opening line of Duke’s melody. The serenity with which he floated over the slow tempo was unbelievable; not surprisingly, I never quite did get that down. But the amount of effort that it inspired, even in a futile struggle to imitate his sound — that’s what sticks with me, even today.

Share your stories in the comments below — Bill and I are looking forward to reading them!

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