By the time John Coltrane was 40, there was no disputing he was one of the greats. He had recorded with groups lead by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as created such timeless records as Blue Train and A Love Supreme. Unfortunately, it was also the year that he passed away. The video above, taken from an hour-long interview with Frank Kofsky in 1966 and brought to life by animator Patrick Smith for the PBS Blank on Blank series, captures Coltrane in this rare window, reflecting on his life, his music, and his beliefs, months before his death in 1967.
This is not the same Coltrane that played in the first great quintet with Miles Davis. You won't find him in any cutting contests. From what he says in the interview, it is apparent that he no longer has that spark of competitiveness and determination that existed when he still had something to prove. Finding time to practice is no longer his first concern, as his schedule is dictated by jolts of inspiration and the condition of his reeds rather than the incessant need to improve.
One can also see glimpses of the spiritual exploration Coltrane took later in his life. Musing on music's role in improving the world, and it's deeply rooted connection to all aspects of society.
Coltrane still had more to offer the world of jazz -- and the world in general -- when he passed away. Although this fact floats in the background, providing a bitter undertone to the interview, his ability to voice his ideas and beliefs for one of the last times is just one more contribution the great "Trane" offered.
Source: Blank on Blank YouTube Channel