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Masters of American Music: The World According to John Coltrane

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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(Mar 30, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 -

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: David Roscoe Mitchell, Rashied Ali, Alice Coltrane, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Heath
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (PCM Mono), English (PCM Mono), French (PCM Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, German, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00354XVIQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,536 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is it folks. This is as close as you'll get to a John Coltrane solo, and hence, according to some, as close as you will get to God in this lifetime. Not only can you hear the notes, but you can see the riveting intensity that consumed Coltrane when he was playing. All the great jazz players can play lots of notes, but Coltrane can tear you up with one note. In addition to ferocious runs up and down the horn Trane plays lots of long searing notes. Just one note, but the attack, the tone, the intensity, the release, are unparalleled in jazz. If you are new to jazz, listen to these notes, they embody the essence of Coltrane, they will tell you all you need to know, for now.
In the tape of "So What" the camera is right in Miles face as he finishes his solo. The picture is perfectly clear, you can see the minutest detail of the expressions on his face as he creates in the moment classic jazz. As he finishes he steps aside as Trane moves up to the mic, playing a few casual notes. Then, immediately, Coltrane reaches white hot intensity, playing long screaming notes alternating with arpeggios defining his harmonic concept. This is it. The Ultimate. It is interesting to see the other players nonchalantly standing about as Trane plays, Occasionally one will look over. The world had never heard music like this before, and Trane was scandalizing critics and fans by the thousands, but these guys were cool. What a moment!
The video is about the music, and are several extended cuts included, along with commentary by musicians that played with Trane, this commentary is not too compelling, but, it does give some idea of how Trane's contemporaries related to him. The only way I can think of to make it better would be to make it longer.
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Format: DVD
If this version of MFT was only available on CD, it would certainly be the best version ever...

There's only some problems with that: although the doco does contain the entirety of Coltrane's solo after Tyner's, it does not include the beginning of the performance...and also, the sound quality is so extremely bad that it almost makes you weep.

Still, this is incredible music. Coltrane here breaks so free from the studio version of the piece that one wonders why none of the recorded (or bootlegged) versions seem to have this much power...this is truly an outstanding performance, which we are lucky to have.

The visuals are also astoundingly powerful - you can see the strain in Coltrane's face, and in Elvin Jones' - drool begins dripping out of the end of the soprano sax, and at one point Coltrane (deeply into the performance) accidentally clubs the microphone with it! The visual details make this performance almost frightening to watch - one wonders what a real live performance of coltrane was like.

The other performances on this disc are very fine too - look at the ONLY complete recording of Alabama (not a single CD version has the whole piece) and it's on video too! There's a couple of fierce performances of Impressions - one with Eric Dolphy - and a superb Naima.

There is finally colour footage of Coltrane at the Newport '65 concert (New thing at Newport) which shows the frightening energy of his music making as well as the fact that James Garrison had appalling dress sense...
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
John Coltrane keeps growing larger each year. Prestige, Atlantic and Impulse all have massive box treatments of this man. there are30 books in print from ... that deal with him{from Lewis Porter's definitive biography, to a collection of poetry dedicated to him, DEAR John Coltrane} There is an African Orthodox Church in San Francisco that is called the church of St. John Coltrane.So ,it would seem, there is soemthing profound about coltane that touches many people at their very center. this Video, done in cooperation with Alice Coltrane{hence the somewhat reverant tone] is a compilation of mostly muscial clips taken from the early 60's, with soem nice moments of coltrane with the Miles davis quintet. Some grainy black in white footage{though the sound is surprisingly good},compliments the color footage of Newport ,and the interviews{Tommy FLanigan, Rashid ali}are helpful. The music, though is the real star here. look at Coltrane as he goes into a loong, long solo,what passion and energy he consumes. he was looking, we are told, for God, and the sound of God.With the legacy he left, I think he may have found it. Well done, far from definitive, though a good part of the canon.
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Format: DVD
Coltrane and his music is really genius. The same I expect from the movie about him.
Why I consider it weak:
1. It is only 60 min and not all the time is for his music. DVD can fill > 3 h.
2. Comments are interrupting his performance. The sessions are cut at the middle.
I think I need to wait for DVD writer and create the movie that I want by myself. I want to have whole session of performance from Jazz Casual (weak picture, but the sound recording is good). I want to see as much as possible from Kind of Blue, My Favorite Things, Giants Steps and Love Supreme. I saw the parts from these sessions but I want to have all of it. I don't care that the picture can be weak, but I want to see Coltranes fingers and hear his sax.
Also for music DVD it should be the option to play only music without comments, because after couple of times you probable want to hear only music and not listen to the story.
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