We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Harold Jaffe’s new book BRUT, out this week on Anti-Oedipus Press. BRUT focuses on several generations of artists and thinkers, featuring scenes and observations on the likes of Alberto Giacometti, William Blake, and James Baldwin. In this excerpt, Jaffe delivers a concise look at the way one musician’s life overlapped with the history of two nations.
When John Coltrane visited Nagasaki in 1966, Nagasaki had not recovered from the US atom bomb attack three days after the US bombed Hiroshima in August 1945.
When the car transporting John and Alice Coltrane pulled up to the greeting area in Nagasaki, Alice got out but ‘Trane stayed in the car playing notes on a flute.
The Japanese host looked into the car and asked him what he was doing.
John Coltrane whispered that he was trying to find the right music to commemorate Nagasaki.
Later, a Japanese jazz fan asked Coltrane an odd question:
“What do you expect to be ten years from now?”
‘Trane answered at once: “A saint.”
John Coltrane died the following year, 40-years-old.