Your Gateway John Coltrane Albums

My Favorite Things

hide captionMany of the comments mentioned the album My Favorite Things.

Atlantic/Warner Music Group

Thanks for all your comments on our recent callout, "What's The First John Coltrane Album You Fell In Love With?" We've got 99 at the moment! That's close to a record for A Blog Supreme. Thanks!

It's great to see so many people bare their heartfelt connection to Coltrane's music, a musician whose passion is so strong that it feels palpable, like a material good. I'd like to feature some of my favorite responses, and my responses to them, below.


I think it's really interesting when historical incident shapes the historical register. For the recording session that produced the first few tracks of Coltrane's Lush Life, the story goes that pianist Red Garland simply neglected to appear at the studio. It turned a quartet into a trio — and, many years later, it became the first favorite album of a certain M Wilson (linesegment):

Lush Life. I never knew harmony could be expressed so well through a single tone instrument (and all because the piano player didn't show up the first day).

I also am constantly impressed that people approach Coltrane from so many different places. There are those people who find Coltrane in his early solo discography, who discover the Coltrane who was working with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. And then there are folks like Mark Saleski, who writes at Something Else! reviews, and got into Coltrane through the 1967 free-blowing duet session Interstellar Space:

For me it was Interstellar Space, though I freely admit that when I first listened to it I did NOT know what was going on. That didn't stop me from enjoying the wild energy of the album. Even now, I don't have a complete understanding of 'Trane's intent, but over the years my ears have developed enough so that I can enjoy things like deconstructed arpeggios, shifting rhythms, and whatever else makes that particular sonic architecture so much fun.

See, usually it works that somebody will discover the tonal, hard-swinging Coltrane before the skronky, ecstatic Coltrane. See Glenn Harcourt (rroseselavy123):

"My Favorite Things" was, if not the first, one of the first half-dozen or so jazz albums that I ever heard, and it was pretty close to being a life-changing experience. It opened a whole new spiritual world as well as a musical one, and within a year I was coming home from my after freshman year of college job and flopping down on my bed in the dark, closing my eyes, and letting my mind float off into "Interstellar Space." I haven't looked back in 40 years, and it's been a great trip.

I ought to mention that the bulk of responses came in mentioning the usual suspects: Giant Steps, A Love Supreme, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. There was plenty of long tail, though, with Ole Coltrane appearing with notable frequency. Robert T. Jordan (rtj) has a crazy story about another lesser-known gem:

In 1967 - '68, I was in the US Army, stationed in Vietnam. We had a battery powered turntable, and LP's. KULU SE MAMA was an album we played quite a bit.

My Favorite Things was high among the results too, as J. Philbrick (Brick1111) wrote in:

I knew nothing of Coltrane until a Jazz class in college in 1972. The teacher ... played "My Favorite Things" and I was hooked. Hearing the Soprano [saxophone] played in that fashion was mindblowing. Such an exotic, vibrant sound. That album became my first Coltrane love supreme.

Anyone else struck by the 1972 there? That's 11 years after the album was released. That would be like teaching Wilco's Summerteeth, Beck's Midnite Vultures, or Dr. Dre's 2001 this year, in 2010. It's not that inconceivable, of course, but some jazz professor back in 1972 was pretty sure of that record's "instant classic" status. He was right, of course.

There's nothing like that formative moment when you first realize that this jazz music stuff isn't just about playing Fast and Exciting and A Lot Of Notes At Once — that jazz is capable of slow, aching beauty. That sounds like the experience of Josh Rosen (cbies), and also my own:

my first exposure to coltrane was a couple years ago, on a compilation album i got when i was 13 or 14, where they had the first 4 minutes of "my favorite things". i was really attached, interestingly enough (or fittingly enough - i Am a keyboardist, after all), to mccoy's sound more than trane's, so i went and bought the full album off itunes. i actually didn't like the album too much, with the exception of "but not for me". i eventually got around to buying Giant Steps, and then Blue Trane, but i didn't really dig him until i got Ballads. i finally understood that there's more to his sound than his i-can-play-more-notes-faster-than-you sixteenth and triplet runs, and decided to take another stab at his earlier stuff. that's when i started digging on "naima" and "syeeda's song flute", and then i was in.

Josh sounds like a pretty young guy — high-school age. Whereas Jim Cameron (HenGates) was around to hear My Favorite Things played on Symphony Sid's radio program!

My Favorite Things. It was the first jazz album I ever bought, and a life-changing experience. I had heard Symphony Sid play the title track on his WADO radio show. One night, impressed that it was such a long track, I listened to it with great concentration, starting me on a lifetime jazz trip that's not over yet. John Coltrane was a great artist and a great man.

I suspect part of the reason this question has received so many responses is that there are a lot of entry points to this Coltrane fella's music. From 1955 to 1967, his music changed so much, so quickly, that there's something for everyone: classy post-bop, math-jazz, beautiful ballads, muscular manhandling, spiritual devotion, outer worlds. Of course, something for everyone quickly changes to everything for someone. But that's for another post.


Related At NPR Music: The Cocktail Party Guide To John Coltrane.

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