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John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography by Yasuhiro Fujioka, with Lewis Porter and Yoh-ichi Hamada

Though these three books center on players whose lives and music are interconnected in various ways, they are dramatically different in focus and style. The first is a discography, the second a detailed tour through a man’s philosophy and music, the third a chronology of a musical community.

The Coltrane discography is a magnificent achievement. It should be the standard of excellence against which all future discographies are compared for comprehensiveness, ease of use and visual attractiveness. Fujioka’s team has listed all known U.S., European, Japanese and Korean issues of Coltrane’s music, in every recording format. They base their work on David Wild’s fine discography of the 1970s and early 1980s, but add much information that has surfaced since then (additional recording dates, additional takes from known recording dates, information on how some Miles Davis recordings were spliced together, and so on). The excellently reproduced photos (many of them full page) and the small reproductions of about 700 album covers offer a strong visual impact. I cannot begin to do justice to this important work in a brief review; anyone interested in discography and/or Coltrane should consider buying it.

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