Celebrating 10 Years

“When you interview over 30 diverse people about an artist who has been gone for nearly 40 years, you realize that this isn’t just some artist who plays the saxophone well.  This is an artist who was on a mission that was deeper and greater than we could have ever imagined.  He was not just playing jazz, he was not just improvising—he was pushing the limits of himself, his instrument, his music, and his spirit."  
- Joseph Vella, PopMatters 2007

Debuted in 2007, the Traneumentary was a pioneering documentary podcast series devoted to  the artistry and recordings of John Coltrane. The series was produced by Joseph Vella and ran in weekly installments throughout the year. An illustrious collection of guests including Jimmy Cobb, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and many more share their personal accounts of John Coltrane and his music.

The Traneumentary was the first podcast series devoted to a legendary musical artist combining in-depth personal narratives and track commentaries. United by a deep respect and love for Coltrane’s legacy, the series remains the only collaborative effort involving the joint support of four major record labels: Prestige, Blue Note, Impulse and Atlantic. 

Introduced in the "Pursuits" column of the Wall St Journal, the series was highly ranked by numerous music sites. It was featured on NPR, in the Los Angeles Times and selected as a top podcast series of 2007 by iTunes.  Join us as we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the groundbreaking Traneumentary.

The Traneumentary Story

In the summer of 2006, I was contacted by Concord Records to create a podcast episode on a John Coltrane box set entitled Fearless Leader.  After reviewing the material, I felt would be nearly impossible, and somewhat a disservice, to create a single podcast episode on such an intense and profound artist. Having spent countless hours listening to Coltrane myself, I knew his essence transcended the music and left something deeper within those who embraced it.   I had a bigger and better plan to introduce Coltrane to the emerging podcast audience and proceeded to contact my record label colleagues at Atlantic, Blue Note and Impulse.  I told them about Concord’s request and suggested a way we could all work together.  I wanted to celebrate and introduce the great music of John Coltrane through his most famous recordings but also through personal stories and accounts from a variety of musicians, producers, writers and educators.   Within thirty minutes, the Traneumentary was born.

Track excerpts used in this episode: 

• "I Want To Talk About You"
• "On Green Dolphin Street"
• "My Favorite Things"
• "Acknowledgement"
• "My One & Only Love" 

Greetings from McCoy Tyner

The Traneumentary’s journey started in the summer of 2006 with a visit to McCoy Tyner at New York’s famed Blue Note jazz club.  After McCoy’s first set, I met him in his dressing room and gave him an overview of the series and asked if he would be interested in participating.  Although he was unaware of podcasts and blogs, he understood the importance of celebrating and expanding the legacy of John Coltrane to a new and digital-savvy audience.  He immediately agreed and then recorded the special greeting contained on this episode.  Later in this series, you will hear McCoy talk about his personal relationship with Coltrane as well as the amazing experience he had playing with the famous John Coltrane Quartet.

Track excerpts used in this episode:

• "Lonnie's Lament"

Terence Blanchard

We launch the Traneumentary with New Orleans based trumpeter and film composer Terence Blanchard.  Terence has worked and recorded with a number of musicians including Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton and Donald Harrison and has scored numerous films, most notably for Spike Lee.  On this episode, Terence talks about his introduction to John Coltrane and comments on the saxophonist's innovation and lasting impact.

Track excerpts used in this episode:

• "Trane’s Blues”
• "Four"
• "Acknowledgement"
• "I Want To Talk About You"
• "Afro Blue"
• "Chasin' The Trane"

Jimmy Cobb

Legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb has performed and recorded with many of the most prolific jazz artists including Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, Wes Montgomery and Sarah Vaughan. Jimmy’s work with John Coltrane is most recognized on Miles’ recordings such as Kind of BlueSomeday My Prince Will Come and In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk. While Trane was recording various sessions for the Prestige label, he recruited Jimmy to play on several. On this episode, Jimmy recounts working and recording with John Coltrane.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Love Thy Neighbor”
• “My Ideal”
• “I’m A Dreamer, Aren’t We All”
• “Invitation”
• “Spring Is Here”

Michael Cuscuna (commentary)

Veteran producer Michael Cuscuna is the go-to guy when it comes to jazz reissue production and remastering. He is one of the most knowledgeable sources on jazz artists and recordings plus, he is one of the owners of the phenom niche label, Mosaic Records. On our first Traneumentary commentary episode, Michael shares his rich views on one of Coltrane’s finest compositions and recordings as a leader – “Blue Train.”

Tracks used on this episode:

• "Blue Train"

Dave Schroeder

Dave Schroeder, the Director of the NYU Jazz Studies program, presents a dynamic portrait of John Coltrane. Aside from running one of the best jazz education programs in the states, he is also an accomplished musician who plays regularly with his band Combo Nuvo in the New York City area.  Throughout the production of the Traneumentary, Dave, along with renowned Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter, played a key role as an advisor.  On this episode, Dave shares his early experiences hearing Trane and also provides an enriched examination of key elements that made John Coltrane unique and so powerful.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Lazy Bird”
• “Om”
• “My Favorite Things”
• “Lover”
• “Too Young To Go Steady”
• “Venus”

Joel Dorn

Producer, disc jockey, record executive and all around jazz authority Joel Dorn (aka The Masked Announcer) talks of Trane from his first hand accounts as a radio DJ in Philly and as a young producer at Atlantic Records. Joel gets right to the core of the matter with his discussion of Coltrane’s ascent with Giant Steps and My Favorite Things.  Plus, he describes the Coltrane Quartet “live” experience as well as the saxophonist’s funeral. 

Tracks used in this episode:

• “My Favorite Things”
• “Village Blues”
• “Giant Steps”
• “Central Park West”
• “Ole”
• “Naima”
• “Equinox”

Karrin Allyson

Grammy-nominated vocalist Karrin Allyson has been churning out one great recording after another for many years. With each album, comes a new musical theme in which she performs both as a vocalist and pianist. A few years back, she paid homage to John Coltrane with the release of Ballads-Remembering John Coltrane – a set of the repertoire from the classic Ballads album along with a few added Trane inspired pieces. The album was a critically acclaimed success. On this episode, Karrin shares the story of her first experience listening to John Coltrane as well as adds her perspective on his music and artistry from the point of view of a vocalist.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Lonnie’s Lament”
• “Everytime We Say Goodbye”
• “Traneing in”

Lenny Pickett

One of the most recognizable tenor saxophonists over the last 30 years, Lenny Pickett turned heads working in the famous Tower of Power horn section.  In 1985, he joined the Saturday Night Live band and since 1995, he has been the band's musical director.   Over the years, Lenny has became a sought after session player recording with a variety of jazz and pop artists including David Bowie, Elton John and the Talking Heads. He also serves on the faculty of NYU Jazz Studies.

Tracks used in this episode:

“Big Nick”
“Too Young To Go Steady”
“Out of the World"

Jason Moran (commentary)

Pianist Jason Moran is one of the most prolific musicians on the scene today.  Jason’s recordings provide a refreshing and dynamic window into new creative musical environments. On this commentary episode, Jason walks us through the track “Monk’s Mood” taken from the historic At Carnegie Hall recording and explains the musical magic between Trane and Monk.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Monk's Mood”

Ashley Kahn

Writer Ashley Kahn is a renowned authority on the artistry of John Coltrane.  He has extensively researched the master for his notable books:

The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse! Records
Kind of Blue-The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
A Love Supreme-The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album

On this episode, Ashley puts Coltrane’s musical force and legacy into perspective.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Dear Lord”
• “Wise One”

Michael Cuscuna

Producer and jazz authority Michael Cuscuna shares his fond memories of seeing the John Coltrane Quartet perform live.  Michael gives his front row account in this must listen episode.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Spiritual”
• “Alabama”
• “Ascension”
• "Transition”

Dave Liebman

The great saxophonist Dave Liebman reveals his personal story of witnessing John Coltrane live and how that experience changed his life. He shares his deep and thoughtful perspectives on Coltrane’s artistic place in the world.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “My Favorite Things” (Live)
• “Naima” (Live)

Anton Fig

On this episode, drummer Anton Fig describes his introduction into the music of John Coltrane and also discusses the brilliant drumming of the master Elvin Jones.

Tracks used in this episode:

• “Kulu Se Mama”
• “The Drum Thing”
• “Resolution”

Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins is a legendary musical force, and like Trane, continues to inspire with his masterful improvisations and amazing wizardry on the saxophone. Sonny is a true legend who had great respect forJohn Coltrane and also shared a beautiful friendship with him. In 1956, Sonny and Trane recorded a track entitled “Tenor Madness” -  the only recording featuring the two brilliant saxophonists. On this episode, Sonny reflects on that recording, meeting Trane and their friendship.

Tracks used in this episode:

“Tenor Madness”

Special thanks to Bret Primack for conducting this interview.

Dr. Billy Taylor

The honorable Dr. Billy Taylor has done it all in his prolific career.  He learned from the master pianist Art Tatum, played with Ben Webster, Ella, Bird, Diz, Duke Ellington, Miles and many others.  He is also a gifted composer in his own right as well as one of the premier educators of the music.  Billy created the successful Jazz Mobile and the Jazz and July Series @ University of Massachusetts.  Dr. Taylor had the opportunity to hang out with John Coltrane at Birdland and discuss music, artistic influences and life. On this special Traneumentary episode, he lets us in on those encounters. 

Tracks used in this episode:

• "Time After Time"
• “In A Sentimental Mood”
• “Something I Dreamed Last Night”
• “The Inch Worm”