Chasing Trane:
The John Coltrane Documentary

Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane was not a vintage rocker by any means, yet his impact on the rock and roll community cannot be underestimated. Just ask the Doors or Carlos Santana — both of whom have repeatedly praised Coltrane as a major influence. For those who don’t understand and want to expand their horizons, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary may be the answer. Written and directed by John Scheinfeld, the film details the musician’s rise through the circuit, playing with Miles Davis, losing the gig because of drug use, and making a comeback after regaining his sobriety, imprinting his style, and embarking on a spiritual quest.

While the movie includes rare photos and rare film footage (family home movies, studio sessions), much of Coltrane's story is told by musicians he knew and worked with (Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Reggie Workman), as well as musicians he influenced (Common, The Doors' John Densmore, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Kamasi Washington), his children (Antonia, Ravi, Oran and Michelle), and admirers (President Bill Clinton and Dr. Cornel West). Even though the film has no interviews or words spoken by Coltrane himself, his reflections and writings are brought to life by actor Denzel Washington.

The film’s DVD and Blu-ray include a booklet with an essay by Scheinfeld, along with photos from the movie. The soundtrack's booklet also includes photos from the movie, plus an essay by esteemed jazz journalist Ashley Kahn, another talking head in the film. While there have been other attempts to capture the essence of John Coltrane and his music in various film treatments, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary provides a credible account of how the man transcended his circumstances and left an indelible mark that still resonates in the hearts and minds of young and old fans around the world.

~ Shawn Perry

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