So who's the obscure forerunner of Coltrane?
October 15, 2011 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Flying Burrito Brothers : The Eagles as Brooks and Dunn : The Louvin Brothers as John Coltrane : ??

Writing filter: I'm trying to write something about someone who has rather shallow musical tastes, like "She never delved very deeply into the various genres she professed to love, listening to the Eagles but not the Burritos, Garth Brooks but had never heard of the Louvins or Flatt and Scruggs, John Coltrane but not...?"

I don't know enough about jazz to fill this last one in. Any thoughts?
posted by Ollie to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ornette Coleman?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2011

Charlie Parker, maybe? I guess he's still fairly mainstream, but not as much as Trane or Miles.
posted by supercres at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2011

Sun Ra. But I think John Coltrane is closer to Gram Parsons and the Louvin Brothers in these examples. A more accurate comparison would be something like "listens to Wynton Marsalis but not King Oliver." (Or Dizzy, or Bird, or Louis.)
posted by Lorin at 4:12 PM on October 15, 2011

agreed, I think coltrane belongs on the other side of that equation paired with, say, Kenny G...
posted by dan g. at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins might be a better fit, come to think of it, though they're from earlier eras. Coltrane is a better saxophonist than either, but they both predate him.
posted by supercres at 4:14 PM on October 15, 2011

Coleman Hawkins would definitely be a good fit for his huge influence on bebop.
posted by Lorin at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2011

Though Coltrane's a household name, he produced a very broad body of work and is considered (well, by me at least) a much more innovative and sui generis musician in his genre than the Eagles would be in theirs. "Branford Marsalis but not John Coltrane" would read a lot more easily to me than "John Coltrane but not X" for any value of X I can think of. Placing John Coltrane on the Eagles side of the equation could actually leave me wondering about the author's perspectives on jazz to the extent that it would distract me from the rest of the piece.
(Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young would fit)
posted by metaman livingblog at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

^^^ I agree with metaman livingblog's sentiment, but...don't go dissin' on Branford! I think Kenny G : Coltrane is more of what you are looking for, or Chuck Mangione : Louis Armstrong
posted by mosk at 4:52 PM on October 15, 2011

Hmmm, it seems that Coltrane is both the obvious part and the aficionado part. I might go with Marsalis : Coleman Hawkins. (I'm basing this on my own jazz knowledge and experience...I feel like in college everyone had the "My Favorite Things" album or Davis's "Kind of Blue" but nothing else in the jazz category.) Coleman Hawkins, I think, is obscure enough that the layman wouldn't know him.

I think Kenny G is taking things too far in the flinch direction.

Thanks all.
posted by Ollie at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2011

Right, the thing of it is that -- like others have said -- you don't want to use Coltrane for this. You surely don't want to use Coltrane on the shallow side of the equation. You really don't.

That said, I wonder if this analogy is useful at all to describe someone with shallow musical tastes. Anybody who has access to a soft-rock radio station knows the Eagles or Garth Brooks, and wouldn't have to learn anything about bluegrass, country or country-rock in the process.

But the thing about jazz is that it's been sufficiently marginalized that, man, you pretty much even have to search for the bad stuff. So, even a good jazz analogy would ring false to me here. Not false as an analogy, mind you, but false as a description of the character.

So, maybe it would be better to use the blues instead as a way of rounding out this analogy? This is someone who likes, I don't know Bonnie Raitt but has never heard of Big Mama Thornton. ZZ Top but not John Lee Hooker.

I like this better because there are so many judgments in jazz -- use Kenny G you're not just saying that her taste is shallow, you're saying it's awful. Mention Dave Brubeck (who's a bit pedestrian to my ear) versus, say, Andrew Hill (who isn't) and people who know will think you're starting a fight about jazz traditions, while everyone else will be shaking their heads uncomprehendingly. But you don't say that you want her to have bad taste. You just don't want someone who's worked at seeking things out.

So it seems that with blues rock, everthing's so much easier. I mean, Bonnie Raitt's fine (even if she's not in my wheelhouse). ZZ Top are plenty cool. You just don't have to dig for these folks -- they're still on the mainstream radio. Probably the same Clear Channel "We Play Everything!" stations where your character hears the Eagles or Brooks & Dunn.

The point being, you can find (and like) the blues rock without ever making any effort to get to the blues. But even the shallow end of jazz takes a little work these days.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:16 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Bonnie Raitt but not Sippie Wallace.
Elvis but not Big Mom Thornton or Big Boy Crudup.
Harry Connick, Jr. but not Eubie Blake.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:24 PM on October 15, 2011

posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:33 PM on October 15, 2011

(or "A Love Supreme"-era Coltrane but not "Ascension"-era Coltrane!)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:35 PM on October 15, 2011

Stevie Ray Vaughan but not Albert King.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:38 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Candy Dulfer, David Sanborn, Grover Washington, Jr.?
posted by dobbs at 5:59 PM on October 15, 2011

Louis Armstrong but not Sidney Bechet.
posted by rabinowitz at 6:21 PM on October 15, 2011

Agreeing with everyone on the fact that Coltrane's on the wrong side of that equation. There's no set up for that analogy where the other side doesn't come off as hipper-than-thou name-dropping.

Kenny G's really the only name that would fit for jazz in general; although shifting it over to jazz crooner (be it Bublé or Sinatra) might be easier to make work.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:11 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Diana Krall but not not Nat King Cole
posted by canoehead at 8:04 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

John Coltrane : Kenny G?

Verrry lopsided, and it chafes me to even call Kenny G "jazz", but...
posted by IAmBroom at 4:14 PM on October 16, 2011

Oops, that should probably read
Kenny G : John Coltrane

Coltrane is one of the very greatest saxophone musicians of all time, as well as being an important musical composition theorist. He does NOT belong on "simple" side of any equation.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:15 PM on October 16, 2011

OK, I'm going to leave jazz out of it. Coltrane is both household name and one of the greatest musicians of all time, so he doesn't fit with the other pairs. Jazz doesn't really at all, for the reasons outlined by kobayashi above. Maybe I'll use the blues rock pairs, or just end the sentence with "She only owned one Coltrane album" or something like that. Thanks all.
posted by Ollie at 4:31 PM on October 16, 2011

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