Innovative, influential and strongly revered, John Coltrane was the most revolutionary and widely imitated saxophonist in jazz. With previously unseen footage, The World According
to John Coltrane celebrates this extraordinary and passionate musician who strove with 'relentless curiosity' for a musical ideal and cultivated an almost saintly reputation among listeners and fellow musicians. The film
includes extensive performance footage and culminates in a fascinating musical meeting between the Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and dervish musicians
in Morocco's Sahara desert in 1990.
"...Not a straight biographical doc or even a chronological one about his album releases, The World According to John Coltrane (59 mins., $19.99) takes a more meditative, wider view of looking at the artist and how his experience and outside influences shaped his music.
Interviewees include jazzmen and Coltrane sidemen/friends Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Rashied Ali and Tommy Flanagan, as well as the voice of wife/pianist Alice Coltrane. Oddly, we don't hear so much of a peep from Coltrane himself in any clips, his only expression through lengthy - and amazing - TV musical performances.
If the DVD has a main thesis, it's that Coltrane was an endless seeker, not just with his music but with his life. So while he could have had a fine career simply re-recording Giant Steps and A Love Supreme over and over, his pursuit of all kinds of world music - gospel, Asian, African, Middle Eastern - permeated his own tunes. Who else could turn a poppy showbiz tune from The Sound of Music ("My Favorite Things") into a near-orgasmic, whirling-dervish exercise in intensity?
'I don't know where he got the energy from,' Ali notes. 'He was relentless. He was always pursuing the music.'" -Bob Ruggiero -- Houston Press Blogs
"The legacy of John Coltrane is gigantic, and not necessarily a simple concept to grasp. Not just a virtuoso musician, Coltrane stands as a true visionary in his field. This documentary produced in cooperation with his wife, Alice Coltrane, carefully examines his religious roots in defining his development as a musician and spiritual being. These two sides of his artistic vision would elevate his work and life in a profound manner. Inspired by his early involvement in church, Coltrane's work would evolve beyond the realm of music into an exhaustive search for the pure spirituality of man. Equally influenced by the meditative and passionate Middle Eastern and African melodic modality, this innovator infused his music with soaring and evocative composition. This intensity and commitment to experimentation and freedom of expression influenced an entire generation of jazz, classical and popular musicians. His lifelong search for global music and spiritual awareness remains at the core of this documentary. It is interesting to note that Coltrane's ambition was to play with as many diverse and multicultural musicians in his lifetime as possible.
This reissue DVD offers performance highlights interspersed with commentary by a variety of musicians. It is an interesting experience to watch Coltrane produce those incredible sounds out of the tenor sax (Giant Steps), and the soprano sax (My Favorite Things). The performance footage focuses on the inimitable John Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Jimmy Garrison on bass. Equally moving is the rendition of the moody and reflective Reverend King Alabama. The black and white film underscores the minimalistic and groundbreaking explorations of these musicians. Footage of Coltrane with Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis will demonstrate the respect and awe he inspired in other musicians. He would continue to experiment, improvise and move forward, regardless of critics or jazz purists. His music would always reflect a personal yet universal embrace of the human spirit and its inexorable aspirations. This DVD provides an incisive glimpse into a genius' pursuit of music, spirituality, and the world condition." -Robbie Gerson -- Audiophile Audition: May 25, 2010 - http://www.audaud.com/article?ArticleID=7396