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John Coltrane: His Life & Music by Lewis Porter

The wonderful collaborative effort, John Coltrane, a Discography and Musical Biography, appeared in 1995 (reviewed in JazzTimes, June 1997). Now Lewis Porter, one of those collaborators, has written another winner, one that supersedes all previous Coltrane biographies, and updates his contributions to the 1995 book. Meticulously researched and documented, it is filled with precise details of time, place, and personnel, and yet it reads well-no mean feat!

Some readers may be uninterested in the opening pages that outline Coltrane’s genealogy; others may find daunting the numerous musical examples and occasional technical discussions. But Lewis-an associate professor of music at Rutgers University, Newark-is an educator as well as a scholar, and he explains the musical matters in ways that should be clear to musicians and non-musicians alike. Also, the wealth of biographical information, much of it new or newly corrected, and the generous helpings of Coltrane’s own words should appeal to any reader interested in the gentle giant of the saxophone. And the 38-page chronology at the end of the book is an extremely useful summary of his career.

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