John Coltrane on Giant Steps

(“In a Sentimental Mood” by John Coltrane) – Do you live far outside of… wherever we are now? – Well I guess I’m about four or five miles down the road (laughs).

– [Frank] You really sound like Farmer John (laughs).

– Yeah man, when I come up here, I have to do all… to get everything I want to get…


You know, I got to the store and do all that because I don’t want to come back up here.

(jazz music) – [Frank] Where do you play at home? – [John] Anywhere.

There’s a room over the garage out there that I’m getting fixed now to… I think it’s going to be my practice room.

You know sometimes you build a room and it ends up you can still go in the toilet, so I don’t know, I hope I like it but… I keep a horn on the piano and I have a horn in my bedroom… the flute’s usually back there because when I go down tired, I lay down and practice and…

– About how many hours a day do you play, would you say? – Not too much at this time.

I find that it’s only when something is trying to come through you know that I really practice and then it’s just, I don’t know how many hours, it’s just all day.

(saxophone music) I did a foolish thing, I got dissatisfied with my mouth piece (laughs).

I had some work done on this thing and instead of making it better, it ruined it.

It really discouraged me, you know, a little bit because they were certain aspects of that playing that certain fast thing that I was reaching for that I couldn’t push because I had damaged this thing… so I just had to curtail it (laughs).

But at that moment, it was so vivid in my mind, the difference in what I was getting on the horn, as soon as I put that horn in my mouth, I could hear it.

I could feel it and I just stopped, I just went into other things.

In fact, soprano’s one of the reasons I started (laughs) getting dissatisfied with that tenor mouthpiece, see? Because the sound of that soprano was actually so much closer to me in my ear.

I didn’t want to admit this damn thing because I said well the tenor’s my horn, this is my baby but the soprano, there’s still something there, just the voice of it that I can’t… It’s just really beautiful.

I really like it.

(“My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane) – [Frank] The people I was staying with have a friend, a young lady, and she was downtown at one Malcolm X’s speeches and, lo and behold, who should plop down in the seat next to her but John Coltrane (laughs).

– [John] (laughs) Yeah.

– [Frank] Were you impressed with him? – [John] Definitely, definitely.

I felt I had to see the man.

I was quite impressed.

– [Frank] Some musicians have said there’s a relationship between some of Malcolm’s ideas and the music.

– [John] Well, I think that music, being expression of the human heart or the human being itself, does express just what is happening.

The whole of human experience at that particular time is being expressed.

(horn music) In any situation that we find in our lives, when there’s something we feel should be better, we must exert effort to try and make it better.

So it’s the same socially, musically, politically, in any department of your life.

I think music is an instrument.

It can create the initial thought pattern that can create a change, you see, in the thinking of the people.

(saxophone music) I want to be a force for good.

I mean I want to be a force for real good.

In other words, I know that there are bad forces.

I know that there are forces out here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force.

I want to be the force which is truly for good.

(saxophone music) – [Frank] What were you looking for John, do you want some cigarettes or…? – [John] No, I’m just sitting up because my back is wet and I just need to get off the chair.

– [Frank] I don’t have any more of my prepared questions to ask you, or my improvised questions (laughs) to ask you.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get the chance to sit you down with a tape recorder again (laughs).

Do you have anything else to get on here? – [John] I think you man, well you just about covered it, I believe… just about covered it.

(jazz music) Subtitles by the community