John Coltrane (kōltrān´, kōl´trān), 1926–67, American jazz musician, b. Hamlet, N.C. He began playing tenor saxophone as an adolescent. Coltrane worked with numerous big bands before emerging in the mid-1950s as a major stylist while playing as a sideman with Miles Davis. Originally influenced by Lester Young, Coltrane displayed in his playing a dazzling technical brilliance combined with ardent emotion and eventually a kind of mysticism. His style, which was at once sonorous and spare, was influenced by the rhythms and tonal structure of African and Asian music. Coltrane made a number of influential recordings, among them the modal-jazz classics My Favorite Things (1961) and A Love Supreme (1964), and the later exemplars of free jazz, Ascension and Interstellar Space, his final album. From the late 1950s until his death he was considered the outstanding tenor and soprano saxophonist of the jazz avant-garde, and his music continues to be a strong source of inspiration to jazz and pop musicians.
See biographies by E. Nisenson (1994) and L. Porter (1998); B. Ratliff, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (2007); L. Brown, John Coltrane and Black America's Quest for Freedom (2010); discography by Y. Fujioka et al. (1995).