John Scheinfeld’s heartfelt documentary not only does the greatness of John Coltrane justice, but serves as a nice tribute to the likes of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk as well.
The legendary saxophonist, who died far too early at the age of 40, is represented in a few quotes by the voice of Denzel Washington, who gives the film a nice flavor. Interviewees include Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Common, Sonny Rollins, John Densmore and, yep, saxophonist Bill Clinton, who actually offers some of the film’s best insights on Coltrane’s music.
The film focuses on Coltrane’s early struggles and conflicts with Davis over drug use, and his eventual rebirth after quitting drugs cold turkey. Fans will enjoy the appreciation of such classics as “Love Supreme,” while the non-initiated might find themselves struck by just how good Coltrane was and go stream a song or two after viewing.
I thought I knew a lot about the guy, but I didn’t know his last tour included a trip to Nagasaki, Japan to pay tribute to those who lost their lives to the atomic bomb. He was a very interesting man, and this is a very interesting documentary.