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What is the story of this Jazz story?
December 1, 2011 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Somewhere in the Ken Burns documentary Jazz, a musician who played with John Coltrane remembers a story about Coltrane defending one of his musicians with violence in some way, and then ends the story with the punchline: "You have to be willing to Die for a motherfucker." Who was that speaking?

Here's the problem: I don't own it and am unsure of ALL the details of this memory. Was Coltrane the star? Was it really in defense of a fellow player? Or was it a story of a couple of musicians fighting and getting stabbed over chord changes and the punchline was "You have to be willing to Die for motherfucking chord changes!" Maybe that was it! My uncertainty is ruining my google fu. All I know is that it involves dying for the music, and the music being really important, and the word Motherfucker.

Does anyone have a clearly recollection of this story and the players in it? I need it for a piece I am writing this very night.

Thanks in advancement.
posted by Potomac Avenue to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Was it this?

"You've got to want to die for the motherfucker!" - Elvin Jones (when asked how he and Coltrane's group managed to play together with such intensity.)
posted by argonauta at 6:46 PM on December 1, 2011


“Many years later”, the tenor saxophonist Bradford Marsalis recalled, “a lot of younger musicians were hanging around with Elvin Jones, and they were talking about, ‘Man, you know, you guys had an intensity when you were playing with Coltrane. I mean, what was it like? How do you play with that kind of intensity?’ And Elvin Jones looks at them and says, ‘You gotta be willing to die with the motherfucker.’ They started laughing like kids do, waiting for the punchline, and then they realised he was serious. How many people do you know that are willing to die—period? Die with anybody! And when you listen to those records, that’s exactly what they sound like. I mean that they would die for each other.”

- excerpt from the book Jazz: A History Of America’s Music
posted by HopperFan at 6:47 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, here's the full quote:
“Many years later”, the tenor saxophonist Bradford Marsalis recalled, “a lot of younger musicians were hanging around with Elvin Jones, and they were talking about, ‘Man, you know, you guys had an intensity when you were playing with Coltrane. I mean, what was it like? How do you play with that kind of intensity?’ And Elvin Jones looks at them and says, ‘You gotta be willing to die with the motherfucker.’ They started laughing like kids do, waiting for the punchline, and then they realised he was serious. How many people do you know that are willing to die—period? Die with anybody! And when you listen to those records, that’s exactly what they sound like. I mean that they would die for each other.”
posted by argonauta at 6:48 PM on December 1, 2011


Glorious. AskMe wins again.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:42 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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