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John Coltrane is definitely one of the greatest tenor and soprano saxophonists ever, having also written many jazz standards, such as Blue Trane and Impressions.
At first, Coltrane started out as a clarinettist, and horn player, but at school he was influenced by hearing players including Lester Young and Johnny Hodges, causing him to switch to alto sax before switching to tenor sax after doing military service during world war two and playing in the U.S. Navy Band. Throughout his life, Coltrane was an alcoholic, and a heroin addict (finally dieing from liver cancer in 1967), but he managed to overcome this, and it was during overcoming his heroin addiction that he wrote perhaps his most important and prolific work - A Love Supreme - a four part work in which Coltrane tried to express his love for and worship of God, with Coltrane playing not from music, but from a prayer in the last movement - psalm.
Throughout his life, Coltrane was trying to push the boundaries of jazz, creating new and exciting music. Throughout his life,however there were also a few standards which he kept returning to, such as My Favourite Things, which he used to love to play, and would sometimes simply play this one tune for an entire concert!
I personally prefer some of Coltrane's earlier works - my favourite C.D. of his being Blue Trane (1957), because I find them easy to listen to, and featuring incredible solo's from Coltrane (i also like the trumpeter on this album - Lee Morgan ), with some of his later works, although being teachnichally phenomenal, being a little to pioneering for my taste (such as some of the tracks on "meditations" - 1965).
Coltrane, throughout his life, was lucky to get the chance to play with some of the greatest ever jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Thelonius Monk, Eric Dolphy and many others.
Coltrane is definitely one of the best saxophonists ever, and definitely worth a listen. Some Good C.D.'s you should check out are: Blue Trane, Giant Steps, Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, ... and many others!