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A Second John Coltrane Documentary Is in the Works (The More the Merrier!)

A Second John Coltrane Documentary Is in the Works (The More the Merrier!)

Seemingly suddenly, there’s a lot of interest in telling John Coltrane’s story on film. But that pleases me. As I’ve shared previously, with all the talk of biopics on N.W.A, Tupac, Aaliyah, En Vogue, and other more recent black public figures, I’d say that a John Coltrane film is long overdue, given the man and his accomplishments – frankly, far more-so than any of the previously mentioned. And two just might be coming to a theater near you soon.

We already told you about long-time Spike Lee editor (as well as director and producer in his own right) Sam Pollard’s John Coltrane documentary, which is currently in production, and has been for a few years now (we first learned about it in 2012), titled “A Love Supreme: A Portrait of John Coltrane in 4 Parts.” The film is said to be based on the critically-acclaimed book “A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album” by music journalist Ashley Kahn. It will reportedly be structured in the same way as Coltrane’s influential 1964 album of the same name. The album is divided into four parts: “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance,” and “Psalm.” It will feature interviews with Coltrane’s band-mates and friends, as well as historians and music journalists, artists, and people of faith who were inspired by the album. Also, and interestingly, Pollard has said that he plans to use animation to help tell Coltrane’s story, and I’m very curious as to how he plans to implement/incorporate. I put the film on my Sundance 2015 predictions list, but it doesn’t look like it’ll premiere there. 

Today brings word that director John Scheinfeld (“The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” “Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson” and more) is developing a film on Coltraner, to be produced by Spencer Proffer, via his Meteor 17 company. The filmmakers aim to make a film that “humanizes” Coltrane, and not a work of hagiography.

It’s worth noting that the film has the approval of the living Coltrane family, who will provide archival, never-before-seen footage of the master saxophonist, including home movies and unreleased audio; Coltrane’s son, Ravi Coltrane, will serve as a consultant on the documentary, which will be in production throughout 2015, and will likely debut in 2016, on the film festival.

“The John Coltrane story is simple… He worked his ass off, going to gigs and then coming home to practice. [The filmmaker’s] hearts are in the right place. They’re film people, not jazz people, so I think it allows for a fresh take. What excites me is how this one artist affected so much outside the realm of music. It’s about vision and discipline.”

“He was an artist whose work resonated with fans from all walks of life — the architect Frank Gehry, Clint Eastwood, Bono,Philip Glass, Alicia Keys, Bill Clinton — and that fascinated me: What is it about this music that touches people so deeply?” asked Scheinfeld, adding, “Most of the books attempt to analyze his music… We’ll make the film different by showing the impact the music made.”

Rights have been cleared for most of Coltrane’s music, which certainly bodes well for the project.

As for Pollard’s own film, I’d expect that we’d see it some time in 2015; but that’s not official.

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