Daily News header

Spirit Seeker Book Review

By     get stories by email

"Music and religion were the twin forces that shaped John Coltrane's early years. Both of his grandfathers were Methodist ministers, and each of his parents was a skilled musician.

In North Carolina during the 1930s, the church was the center of black community life. At a time when discrimination was widespread, the church offered comfort, hope, and guidance. One way it did this was through music...

Perhaps more than any other jazz musician, John Coltrane let his religious feelings guide and inspire his work. Of his recovery from drug use, he wrote, 'During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.'

It was his commitment to sobriety for the last ten years of his life that allowed him to pursue his vision and to create some of the most enduring music in the field of jazz."

- Excerpted from the Afterword (pg. 39)

John Coltrane (1926-1967) pioneered a new sound on the saxophone prior to passing away at an early age, but not before leaving behind a much beloved collection of innovative recordings. Sadly, his untimely demise from liver cancer was likely the result of the heroin habit he had kicked a decade before.

But is the life of a legendary jazz great with such a checkered past the appropriate subject of an illustrated children's book? Yes, argues Gary Golio, author of Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey.

After all, over a million of African-American men are currently behind bars for non-violent narcotics offenses, and millions more are ostensibly dealing with drug addiction. For that reason, a biography detailing Coltrane's failings and ultimate triumph over substance abuse might serve as a warning to kids apt to face similar temptations.

Golio relates how 'Trane's troubles started with alcohol while still in his teens in the wake of the deaths in rapid succession of his father and several other close family members. Regrettably, when the young man subsequently encountered adversity in the form of racism, relationship problems and money woes as an aspiring musician moving around the country, he gradually graduated from that gateway drug to illegal stuff.

In the end, we learn that he cleaned himself up with the help of a return to his religious roots, a spiritual path that undoubtedly provided considerable comfort when he was forced by an incurable affliction to prepare to meet his Maker. A warts-and-all, cautionary tale chronicling both Coltrane's personal flaws and incomparable genius.

To order a copy of Spirit Seeker, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN//ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Spirit Seeker:

John Coltrane's Musical Journey

by Gary Golio

with artwork by Rudy Gutierrez

Clarion Books

Hardcover

44 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-547-23994-1

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Book Publishing News

Kam Williams reviews Death of a King, a haunting portrait of the trials and tribulations of an unwavering visionary who held fast to his core beliefs to his dying day.
Israeli author Ruti Yudovich discusses what it is like to grow up as a little girl in Israel, and grow up to fall in love with an Arab man.
The only criticism I have of the series is that it didn't devote an episode to the African-American Jews of New York. To get a sense of what life is like for a brother from Brooklyn who is both black and Jewish, check out Thoughts of a Unicorn, a m
Kam Williams says The Power List is compiled by collecting data from online book sellers, random samples on relevant Facebook pages, and a quarterly survey of 1,200 African-American book clubs.
Hugh Hewitt and Ed Klein get together for the release of their book Blood Feud, about the Clintons and the Obamas.
Hypnotic Wordsmith Jake Shannon Release His New Book

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site