Until a definitive biography is published, Coltrane fans will have to weather the continuous flow of such cut-and-paste affairs as this "spiritual" rendering of the saxophone giant. As usual, fresh biography and serious musicology are nowhere to be found among the borrowed quotes and familiar chronologies. The author's maladroit prose depicts its subjects as effectively as the liner notes of any second-rate outtakes album, unless it concerns heroin's grip on Coltrane. Then the style is simply preachy. When Fraim attempts to wax philosophical, his theories lack authority to the point of insulting the average reader-"Central to [Coltrane's] findings about African music, he came to realize that rhythm played the dominant role." A player with Coltrane's omnivorous musical appetite wouldn't have waited until drummer Elvin Jones joined his band before turning to the modes and rhythms of Africa. The saxophonist's tenure with Miles Davis years earlier would have led him back to Africa, if indeed the thought didn't cross his mind even sooner than that. Too much of Fraim's portrait relies on skewed speculation and quick glosses of key events that introduce sidemen and contemporaries with textbook portraits. Unlike Coltrane, who worried that his hour-plus solos weren't "getting it all in," Spirit Catcher has a few bungled silences and wrong notes to spare. Discography. (Mar.)
Coltrane was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century; his music was both intellectually and spiritually compelling. This latest offering by author and Jazz Newsletter publisher Fraim is a look at Coltrane's spiritual odyssey from his youth to his demise. Fraim traces Coltrane's musical roots with Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk and brings to the fore his search for a universal sound. He shows that 1957 was a pivotal year for Coltrane, who refocused his quest and hence followed a very productive path until his death ten years later. Fraim uses a lot of metaphor, which is a bit unorthodox in this type of writing, yet he manages not to let it get in the way of the information he is presenting. This book will find an audience among both general and informed lay readers. Recommended for large public and academic collections.-Ronald S. Russ, Brooklyn P.L.
The Journal is issued annually to publish original research on works in the Museum's collections and the areas of investigation they represent. The present volume features nine contributions, including a pair of articles that describe the conservation of a group of German shields, a study of portrait busts of children in 15th-century Florence, a note on a drawing by Jusepe de Ribera, an analysis of armor made for the King of Portugal, and a discussion of candelabra by Luigi Valadier from Palazzo Borghese. Black & white illustrations. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)