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For a few years following 1955, John Coltrane performed in a band led by Miles Davis; it was during this period, Griffin (Who Set You Flowin'?) and Washington (a saxophonist who teaches at Brooklyn College) remind us, that Coltrane came into his own as a saxophonist and a jazz innovator. Washington's own jazz background leads to some intricately detailed musical analysis-so detailed that without the recordings at hand, untrained readers may well find themselves at a loss. Beyond that, the thesis is thin, relying on biographical recaps that emphasize the experiential gap between Davis, whose sound was hitting its first mature phase, and Coltrane, who was still in the process of finding himself as a musician (and simultaneously struggling with drug addiction). Where Ben Ratliff's recent Coltrane: The Story of a Sound probed, this study appears to glide on its subjects' reputations. The connection between Davis and Coltrane's musical awakenings and the rise of the civil rights movement seems obvious, but is largely suggested rather than demonstrated. Similarly, a hasty closing proposition, which likens the pair to trickster gods conducting "'an epic and heroic spiritual battle," falls flat. B&w photos throughout. (Aug. 8)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.