“ The John Coltrane career, from the very start and right on up to 1965, had been propelled by his more or less clear image of what he was after. ”
By then, the jazz situation in Sweden was improving, but mainly in Stockholm. In the provinces, development was many years behind, except for reviews of recordings and concerts. Like Claes Dahlgren, I was born in Malmo, where the critics in the daily papers had ears only for mainstream music. They covered jazz in general pretty well but there was an almost fascist aversion against that which stood out, which was different, progressive. It works this way today too: you are not often impressed when reading music reviews (could it come from bad education? Are those who select the critics influenced by their own shortcomings? Is there still fascism of mind to be traced?). Claes Dahlgren's interview was my first encounter with the music of John Coltrane. It was a short part of the show, maybe ten minutes, made by the time during or shortly before the recording of My Favorite Things. Claes, then in good company, probably didn't grasp fully what Trane was into, but he still had the greatness to include him. Credit goes to such men. To me it spoke directly to the spinal core, I was hooked, a 13-14-year-old Trane-aholic.
The beginning of Coltrane's greatness coincided remarkably with the solving of his tooth-problems. [Coltrane had had dental problems that sometimes interfered with his playing.- eds.] During the Miles/Monk years, he suffered from tooth-pain so severe that for some periods he couldn't perform at all and that was one of the reasons for Miles to sack him the first time, drug problems another. Generally, in those days, he was a confused man and it was not until he married Naima, got his teeth and drug problems sorted out and converted to Islam (unclear to me in what order) that the pieces fell into place. The pieces of his "jig-saw-puzzle" also included sorting out the members of the quartet. Elvin Jones happened to be handy when one drummer didn't show at a recording date. Coltrane signed up bassist Reggie Workman after Paul Chambers turned him down twice. Only the young McCoy Tyner was fronted as Trane's first choice. But he framework was assembled; the road lay open. The transition emanating from this random course of events was wondrous, left was a forlorn bop-era, not yet in wrecks but soon enough.