On this day in 1926 jazz legend John Coltrane was born. (Hat tip to The Writers' Almanac for reminding me of the day.) He died in 1967. His Downbeat biography is here. The first paragraph of the bio sketch attempts to give his importance:

Few artists have been as influential in jazz music as saxophonist John Coltrane. Each of the several major periods of his career produced classic works that remain to this day models for jazz musicians worldwide.

Classic albums include Blue Train, Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, and A Love Supreme. You can hear some of his music at the John Coltrane site here.

For part of his life, Coltrane was addicted to drugs, especially heroin (a scourge among jazz musicians in the '50s) though he did get clean through a rededication of himself to the Christianity of his family and childhood. Following a period of spiritual growth and search, he recorded A Love Supreme, an album that, in the words of one writer, "attests to the power, glory, love, and greatness of God." If you have never heard this album, you have missed a powerful expression of Christian religious experience. His funeral, held at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, was a powerful service of jazz and worship. A scholarly essay on Coltrane's religion and music is found here.

Here is a portion John Coltrane's own words about A Love Supreme from the original liner notes: (below)

Dear Listener:


Let us pursue Him in the righteous path. Yes it is true; "seek and ye shall find." Only through Him can we know the most wondrous bequeathal.

During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.

As time and events moved on, a period of irresolution did prevail. I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully, now and again through the unerring and merciful had of God, I do perceive and have been duly re-informed of His OMNIPOTENCE, and of our need for, and dependence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT . . .IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY--A LOVE SUPREME--.

This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say "THANK YOU GOD" through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.

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