Coltrane, John – 1967 - Stellar regions
Type of spiritual experience
By late 1965, Coltrane was regularly augmenting his group with Sanders and other free jazz musicians. Rashied Ali joined the group as a second drummer. This was the end of the quartet; Tyner left the band shortly after the recording of Meditations, Jones left in early 1966.
There is just the hint here that Coltrane wanted to move on to explore new dimensions, whilst his fellow musicians from the old quartet did not. Rather than simply say – you need to go now – and risk upsetting them, Coltrane simply brought in the musicians he felt would support the new direction and left his old buddies to make up their own minds. Jones left saying he was ‘dissatisfied by sharing drumming duties with Ali’. Both Tyner and Jones expressed displeasure in interviews, after Coltrane's death, with the music's new direction, this did not stop them, however, incorporating some of the free-jazz form's intensity into their own solo projects.
After the departure of Jones and Tyner, Coltrane led a quintet with Sanders on tenor saxophone, his wife Alice Coltrane on piano, Garrison on bass, and Ali on drums. Coltrane and Sanders were described by Nat Hentoff as "speaking in tongues". When touring, the group was known for playing very lengthy versions of their repertoire, many stretching beyond 30 minutes and sometimes being an hour long. Concert solos for band members often extended beyond fifteen minutes.
The group can be heard on several concert recordings from 1966, including Live at the Village Vanguard Again! and Live in Japan.
In 1967, Coltrane entered the studio several times; though pieces with Sanders have surfaced (the unusual "To Be", which features both men on flutes), most of the recordings were either with the quartet minus Sanders (Expression and Stellar Regions) or as a duo with Ali. The latter duo produced six performances that appear on the album Interstellar Space.
Coltrane died from liver cancer at Huntington Hospital on Long Island on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40.
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Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans