[...] Coltrane, whose facial expression ranges from glum to glum, was surprised to hear how much people were paying to hear him. "I'm not sure I like all that pressure on me. I wish I had more to offer the people," he said. "There are so many other saxophone players who say more than I do," said Coltrane.
A weight-watcher, he was having a supper consisting of a glass of iced clam juice, washed down with a glass of orange juice, washed down with a glass pineapple juice and anchored with some salted walnuts, which he carried in a can.
A demonic whirlwind on the stand, Coltrane is placidity itself when he's not playing. After a solo, he will seat himself quietly in a dark corner behind the bass player, out of sight.
He said he almost never loses his temper. "When something drags me, I go off and sulk, that's about all. After a while, whatever it is that's bothering me goes away. But that doesn't happen very much."
"As a matter of fact, the whole band's kind of that way. They're very even-tempered. We've been together more than a year and there's never been a personal argument. I've never been in a band like that," he said.
The smooth glassy tempter of the band's relationships off the stand present a sharp contrast to their playing, to say the least.
Elvin Jones, his devilish lettle [sic
] eyes burning, attacks the drums like a prize fighter and can be heard for blocks. Pianist McCoy Tyner sets up a pedal point in the left hand that makes the tension created by Ravel's "Bolero" seem quite mild. Jimmy Garrison, bass, gids in with a primordial counterpoint to both.
Elvin's the most emotional - the one who might get drug, I guess," Coltrane said. "You can hear it in his playing, and somebody will turn around and say what's the matter? But after a couple of sets that all goes away.
It could be said that Coltrane puts all his color in his music, which is relentlessly demanding - loud, fierce and enormously fast-moving. He himself is not like a band-leader at all. He doesn't smile at the audience, tell jokes, engage in gymnastics or even speak much.
Neither does he take the other tack, currently fashionable, and snarl and glare at his listeners. After he has played a 40-minute solo that has gripped the deeper reaches of a rapt assembly, he will give a polite little nod and go back to his corner amid deafening applause.
In the year since he last played in Washington, Coltrane has kept moving further and further along his unique musical path. The pedal-points that he was beginning to use then have become almost unbearably moving, and the rhythm section moves in and around the time with exhilarating freedom. Tyner, in particular, has improved spectacularly, making explicit many of the ideas that he was a little too subtle about before.
A man who seems totally and continually absorbed in his music, Coltrane was asked if he ever got bored and wanted to go into some other line of work.
"Music is about the best thing I can think of to do," he replied. "If there were something better, it would have to be very wonderful."
~ Coltrane Reference, 259