John William "Trane" Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.
Starting in bebop and hard bop, Coltrane later helped pioneer free jazz. He influenced generations of other musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He was astonishingly prolific: he made about fifty recordings as a leader in his twelve-year-long recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk. As his career progressed, Coltrane's music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane, and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.
He received many awards, among them a posthumous Special Citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2007 for his "masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz."
Coltrane died from liver cancer at Huntington Hospital in Long Island, NY on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40. He is buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, N.Y. Biographer Lewis Porter has suggested, somewhat controversially, that the cause of Coltrane's illness was hepatitis, although he also attributed the disease to Coltrane's heroin use. In a 1968 interview Albert Ayler claimed that Coltrane was consulting a Hindu meditative healer for his illness instead of Western medicine, though Alice Coltrane later denied this.
His death surprised many in the musical community who were not aware of his condition, Miles Davis commented: 'Coltrane's death shocked everyone, took everyone by surprise. I knew he hadn't looked too good...But I didn't know he was that sick-or even sick at all'.
The Coltrane family reportedly remains in possession of much more as-yet-unreleased music, mostly mono reference tapes made for the saxophonist and, as with the 1995 release Stellar Regions, master tapes that were checked out of the studio and never returned. The parent company of Impulse!, from 1965 to 1979 known as ABC Records, purged much of its unreleased material in the 1970s. Lewis Porter has stated that Alice Coltrane, who died in 2007, intended to release this music, but over a long period of time, as her son Ravi Coltrane, responsible for reviewing the material, is also pursuing his own career.