It’s Edinburgh Fringe time, folks, and radical comics from every corner of the the world have decended upon that fine city to purvey their wares, make their names and split our sides. Or not, as the case may be.
Today’s Graun reviews one such hopeful, giving him three (out of a possible five) stars, and a so-so writeup.
What drew me to the review, however, was the name of this would-be mirthmaker with a political bent: Chris Coltrane.
Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but I’d be willing to put good money on the proposition that Chris wasn’t born a Coltrane. In fact, I suspect that like Robbie of that ilk, he was born with another moniker entirely, but somehow reckons that “Coltrane” is kind of cool, knowing and rebellious.
Presumably (as with Robbie), Chris’s choice of surname has someting to do with John Coltrane, the late saxophonist with the distinctions of (1) having a Church established, after his death, which considers him a saint, and (2) having a book written about him by a leader of the (Brit) SWP.
For those not familiar with the work of “Saint” John Coltrane, here’s his acknowledged masterpiece:
Now, opinion of John Coltrane’s saxophone playing varies (from adulation to revulsion), but he did at least act as the catalyst for some of Philip Larkin’s most entertaining writing; here’s the old curmudgeon on the death of Coltrane in 1967:
“The obituaries produced by the sudden death of John Coltrane sent me back to some of his records, picked out more or less at random: ‘Black Pearls’, ‘Live at Birdland’, ‘A Love Supreme’, ‘Africa/Brass’. For although I do not remember ever suggesting that his music was anything but a pain between the ears, here was The Times and Melody Maker (great friends since the Jagger case) agreeing that Coltrane stood beside Hawkins, Young and Rollins in the roll call of tenor players supreme. Was I wrong?
“Well, I still can’t imagine how anyone can listen to a Coltrane record for pleasure. That reedy, catarrhal tone, sawing backwards and forwards for ten minutes between a couple of chords and producing ‘violent barrages of notes not mathematically related to the underlying rhythmic pulse, and not swinging in the traditional sense of the term ‘ (Encyclopedia of Jazz in the ‘Sixties); that insolent egotism leading to forty-five minute versions of ‘My Favourite Things’ until, at any rate in Britian, the audience walked out, no doubt wondering why they had ever walked in; the latter-day religiosity, exemplified in turgid suites such as ‘A Love Supreme’ and ‘Ascention’ that set up pretension as a way of life; that wilful and hideous distortion of tone that offered squeals, squeaks, Bronx cheers and throttled slate-pencil noises for serious consideration – all this, and more, ensure that, for me at any rate, when Coltrane’s records go back on the shelf they will stay there…
…”Virtually the only compliment one can pay Coltrane is one of stature. If he was boring, he was enormously boring. If he was ugly, he was massively ugly. To squeak and gibber for sixteen bars is nothing; Coltrane could do it for sixteen minutes, stunning the listener into a kind of hypnotic state in which he read and re-read the sleeve-note and believed, not of course that he was enjoying himself, but that he was hearing something significant. Perhaps he was. Time will tell. I regret Coltrane’s death, as I regret the death of any man, but I can’t conceal the fact that it leaves in jazz a vast, blessed silence.” (From All What Jazz – A Record Diary 1961-1971).
Further creative use of the name:
Change your name (back), Chris.