Neither Elvin Jones or McCoy Tyner were happy about leaving the great John Coltrane Quartet in early 1965. Or about being replaced by Alice Coltrane and Rashied Ali – but Trane saw something very clear in what he wanted from the group, from Alice and from Rashied – that oddly he wasn’t getting from Elvin or McCoy. It wasn’t an issue of who was better – but of who was going to help him express himself at that time. What Coltrane did in that final period is stunning and often deeply underestimate and mis-understood. It is not easy music. And it was not meant to be.
I don’t think you can separate “Coltrane the man” from “Coltrane the musician” they are the same thing – and it is important to understand his music – theoretically and in relationship to the world he was living in. He was a cerebral genius — with an incredible mastery of music theory – and that is why his music that came after A Love Supreme is so important. People like Wynton or Stanley Crouch who imply that Coltrane somehow “lost it” during his last period are sorely mistaken and not taking into account how far open he was pushing the boundaries of music theory, aesthetics, spirituality, and even the very purpose of musical performance. And that is where “Coltrane the man” was going. He didn’t stop with My Favorite Things – or with A Love Supreme – he was just getting going – unleashing music of profound power and significance. He was way ahead of his time – and responding to other geniuses like Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and others.
It is a complex story and a totally fascinating one.
The man was on fire, filled with ideas, new directions, and a deep sense of oneness with the universe and love for mankind until the day he died.