They say the good die young and in John Coltrane’s case, that might well be accurate. The jazz saxophonist, born in North Carolina, passed away at the relatively young age of 40 due to liver cancer. In his somewhat brief career, he packed in a breadth of work most musicians can only begin to dream of, releasing over 20 albums as a bandleader alone – that’s before you even look at his appearances for others. His significance in jazz history is unparalleled thanks to his musicianship, brave and embellished experimentation and overall captivating compositions. Of course, being a jazz legend (and the great uncle of Flying Lotus) that means his music has become sampling fodder for a ton of producers so we’ve picked five of the best to see just how far Coltrane’s music sonically reached.
1. Juggaknots’ Trouble Man sample of John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things
This is another example of a sample of a cover and what I like about Juggaknots’ sample selection here is that they didn’t go for the bog standard chorus flip and while it’s fairly common for producers to go for track intros, they switched it up a little with the opening soprano sax part too. It was like the swing of the piano section was made for the style of 90s hip hop.
2. Sy Smith’s Fa Sho sample of John Coltrane’s Syeeda’s Song Flute
Brilliant sample on this one. Sy and Ali Shaheed Muhammad interpolated the original opening and played it back using an off-time hi-hat sequence and some guitar stabs, transforming it into a heavy swinging funk/neo soul jam.
3. The Pharcyde’s Pack The Pipe sample of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman’s Autumn Serenade
In 1963, John Coltrane and jazz singer Johnny Hartman collaborated on an album and their rendition of Autumn Serenade was sampled by The Pharcyde on Pack The Pipe from their seminal debut, Bizarre Ride II. As was the tradition of sampling in the early 90s, numerous samples were layered on top of each other and you can just make out the piano intro through the rest of the smokey tracks before it comes to the forefront. Dope flip, dope track.
4. Flying Lotus’ Comet Course sample of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane’s The Sun
We mentioned a branch of Flying Lotus’ illustrious family tree above (with John Coltrane being his great uncle via his marriage to his great aunt, Alice Coltrane neé McLeod) and so it was inevitable that he would delve into their music for some much needed sample inspiration. He chose John’s repeated mantra at the beginning, embedded amongst his searing sonic fantasy. A fitting tribute for the digital age.
5. Scientifik’s Fallen Star sample of John Coltrane’s Africa (Alternate Take)
Buckwild dug deep for this sample on Scientifik’s Fallen Star, having taken a loop a third of the way through Coltrane’s Africa (Alternate Take). Scientifik threw some rough and rugged rhymes to equate with the gruff production work. Unfortunately, Criminal (the album) was Scientifik’s only full length release as he was killed in 1996 so this serves as an example of what he would have been capable of in the future.