For the second solo in this series, I have published the sheet music to John Coltrane’s solo from “Someday My Prince Will Come” [SMPWC]. This is a musical situation where you can hear the tumult of the 60’s impose itself on the very last remnants of Eisenhower’s 50’s. The whole album, a Miles Davis classic, is generally subdued, a 5-star classic. Despite its neo-conservatism, it deserves all its popularity for the excellence of playing. It’s swinging, beautiful, sonorous, despite being stylistically regressive. Within the next ten years, Miles Davis would make two huge innovative impacts with his mid-60’s quintet and the electric stylings of his 1967-1975 period.
The two exceptions on this album are the John Coltrane solos. You can plainly hear the built-up passion and raw energy of American culture through these 4 minutes of improvisational high art. The other solo is on the song “Teo.”
Let’s take a deep dive into John Coltrane’s “sheets of sound” period. This can be considered the tail end of this era. “Bya-Ya” is more bebop-rooted than this solo. The solo on SMPWC has a few bebop moments, which we will detail, but i’d say it’s getting close to the more raw, arpeggio-based improvisation style found on recordings such at Live at the Village Vanguard. If early sheets of sounds seem like an attempt to channel passion via virtuosity, this is passion from a less-tightly structured, more ad-hoc style. This split can be heard as a major theme in contemporary jazz improvisors, compare say the melodic vocabulary of Dave Douglas and Wynton Marsalis, Eric Alexander or Mark Turner.
I consider this solo to be mostly lyrical, and the passion can be plainly heard. The tone quality is his most “metallic,” a difficult to describe quality.
A few recurring melodic themes are as follows:
measures #8-10: ascending Dm scale, Db7 or C7alt, C major arpeggio
m#16-18: a typical bebop lick
m#35-45: a “loco” passage, where the notes are difficult to determine