Apr 30, 2012

Mike Morris' Coltrane Story

Here's a story from my friend Mike Morris. Mike is a terrific tenor player, whose playing career has included work with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Blue Mitchell, Isaac Hayes, Tom Harrell, Manhattan Transfer,  and many more. This story is from around 1962, when Mike was a high school kid.

John Coltrane was appearing at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, and Mike went to hear him. (Note: I remember that club, on Broadway in SF. I used to stand outside on the sidewalk to listen, as a high school kid.)

Mike said that Coltrane practiced all through every break - he was playing continuously for 4 hours. After the show was over, Mike walked up to Coltrane.

Mike: "Mr. Coltrane, that was great. You play so many great ideas. But can I ask you a question?"

Coltrane: "Sure."

Mike: "Do you really know everything that you're doing?"

Coltrane (in a friendly manner): "Yes, I do."

Mike: "I play the alto."

Coltrane: "I used to play the alto, but I gave it up. Charlie Parker already did everything there was to do on the alto. Nobody has figured out a way to play the alto that's any better. But the tenor is wide open. There's so much you can do on the tenor."

Mike: "Then I guess everyone else is going to have to play baritone!"

Coltrane: (laughs)

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