Wednesday, July 23, 2008

coltrane and the effect he should have on jazz guitar tones

this post is exactly what the title says: the influence which i think jazz guitarists should take from john coltrane but they don't.
i am a jazz fan. i find improvisation very interesting, i also find the level of musicianship of top jazz musicians incredibly inspirational. however, i am depressed that most jazz guitarist stick w/ the cliche clean guitar clone.
as a footnote, for those of you unfamiliar w/ guitar tone, it is the combination of the natural acoustic sound physically inherent to the instrument coupled w/ any colouring which guitar electronics, amplifiers, or effects may produce.
tone is generally discussed by players and certain tones i.e. david gilmour's of pink floyd or stevie ray vaughan's are highly coveted and aped by aspiring guitarists. i probably listen to the tone of a guitarist as much if not even more than the notes they are playing. (it's just my cup of tea).
anyways, john coltrane is a saxamaphonist, what does he or should have to do w/ jazz guitar tone? the answer is his tone is amazing. he shreds through the air w/ his "sheet of sound" approach to the sax. but listen to his tone, sax inherently sounds similar to a distorted guitar. but coltrane's distorted tone conveys so much emotion in it, something which i think the "cool" clean cliche jazz guitar lacks. the cliche tone seems to be so concerned w/ fitting in w/ the song that it doesn't express any feelings of the musician. the closest i have observed to emulating coltrane's sax on guitar has to be led zeppelin's jimmy page (although he played more blues than jazz). if i can find some good live tracks where page is allowed to rip it up i will post them. he plays w/ a distorted tone reminiscnet to coltranes as well as a level of emotion which far surpasses most of which i hear from jazz guitarists.

check out the links below for a comparison of coltranes tone to jimmy page (yes page is a bit sloppier, and a bit more "arena rock," but i think he plays w/ a lot of emotions and his tone is very good for the piece)

coltrane - blue trane
led zep - since i've been loving you

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