|The John Coltrane Reference
By Chris DeVito, Yasuhiro Fujioka,
Wolf Schmaler, and David Wild
General Editor: Lewis Porter
A jazz musician's biography is largely a story of gigs. It's a history of questions: "Where did you play? When did you play there? Who was in the band? What did you play? was it preserved (taped, broadcast, filmed)? What did they say about the performance?" But these day-to-day events were of little consequence at the time, barely noted in the entertainment sections, sketchily recorded elsewhere. Because information on these essential activities is hard to find, buried in obscure newspapers, contradictory, not always accurate, and poorly preserved, most jazz biographers report on them anecdotally--"he was there for a few weeks during the spring", " he played concerts in Baltimore and Washington DC that fall". But such generalities don't do justice to the performer and to the world in which he lived
The John Coltrane Reference sets the bar much higher, by retrieving this information from its obscure hiding places, collating, evaluating and reconciling it, and sourcing and documenting it, to recreate in vivid detail the life and career of John Coltrane. It expands, augments and occasionally corrects the pioneering chronology in Lewis Porter's John Coltrane: His Life and Music (the standard John Coltrane biography), and includes quotes, contemporary observations and reports, and reviews, many of them reprinted here for the first time. The chronology owes much of its breadth and depth to a decade's worth of intensive, original research by Reference co-author Chris DeVito.
Discographies never age well--even after 40 years, too much new information is continually unearthed, too many new recordings continue to appear. The John Coltrane Reference updated Yasuhiro Fujioka's John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography (1995), which served as the standard for over a decade--and which itself was an update to David Wild's The Recordings of John Coltrane: A Discography (1979), which had been the previous standard. Fuji and Coltrane researchers Wolf Schmaler and Michel Delorme began working on an update to the Fujioka discography shortly after its publication. In 2002 Dave Wild took Michel's place in the working group, and shortly thereafter Lewis Porter brought the two parallel projects together.
The result is The John Coltrane Reference, the most extensive and exhaustive documentation of the life and music of John Coltrane (and perhaps of any other jazz musician) yet attempted. It contains detailed information about all Coltrane recording sessions, with full lists of the many issues and reissues of the material, and photos of the original releases. The John Coltrane Reference unravels many of the more confused sessions, corrects errors, identifies often purposely obscure issues and generally provides a complete and up-to-the-minute view of the body of Coltrane's work.