John Coltrane

Quick Facts

  • Jazz saxophonist, composer, bandleader
  • One of the most influential jazz musicians
  • Served in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II, played in the base swing band
  • Made some of his first recordings while in the military
  • He was known to practice very hard. Someone even said he practiced “25 hours a day.”
  • While playing with different bands, he distinguished himself as an innovator of new melodic and harmonic patterns.
  • His style of improvisation called “sheets of sound” is a technique where notes are played very fast.
  • One of his most famous pieces is “My Favorite Things,” where he takes the Rogers & Hammerstein song and lengthens it to 14 minutes of improvisation. It was popular around the world.
  • Died of liver cancer at 40.


  • Branford Marsalis poster (PDF)
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