This documentary about John Coltrane provides a fine overview of his career for the uninitiated and plenty of lesser-known information for fans. As one of the latter, I was most interested in the sections covering his tenure in Dizzy Gillespie's band in the early 1950s, which explains what he learned as a journeyman musician, and his tour of Japan in 1966, which reveals how his spirituality informed his writing in his final years. Director John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) nicely balances Coltrane's biography with explanations of his musical innovations, showing how the two were intertwined. The film offers the standard view that Coltrane found his voice in 1957 when he quit heroin and began to articulate his spiritual side, which reached its apotheosis with his 1964 masterpiece A Love Supreme. The engaging talking heads include friends and associates (among them Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner, the latter featured too briefly) and such Coltrane enthusiasts as Common and Bill Clinton. With Denzel Washington reading Coltrane's words.
Director: John Scheinfeld
Writer: John Scheinfeld
Producer: Spencer Proffer, John Beug, Scott Pascucci and Dave Harding
Cast: Denzel Washington, Bill Clinton, Common, John Densmore, Benny Golson, Wynton Marsalis, Kamasi Washington, Carlos Santana, Sonny Rollins and Ashley Kahn
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary