One of the comics in Papercutter #17 is about me buying the John Coltrane album Meditations, after finding a serendipitous note left by an employee at the store. (This is the kind of thing we’re going to lose if brick-and-mortar record stores go extinct, by the way).
In case this comic inspires you to buy a copy of Meditations, I just want to warn everyone that this album is CRAZY (especially the first track). You really have to be in the mood to listen to it. If you’re looking to get into Coltrane, I would recommend starting with either A Love Supreme or Crescent, or reading the ahead-of-its-time book Ascension: John Coltrane and his Quest by Eric Nisenson.
My personal favorite Coltrane album is Sun Ship. To me it hits the perfect balance between his melodic music and his crazier stuff (some of the solos seriously remind me of Sonic Youth). Here’s a youtube video of “Amen,” the third song on this album:
All three of these albums feature the “Classic Quartet” of Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones, which is by far my favorite lineup and the one I listen to the most. I recently picked up the double live album One Down One Up: Live at the Half Note. This album is probably the truest glimpse of what it was like to see the quartet play live, and they play with way more speed and intensity than any of their studio albums (or even their more “official” live albums like Live at Birdland). All four songs are in the 10-30 minute range, with extended solos from Coltrane and Tyner, but, like Sun Ship, it never gets un-listenable. This album is quickly becoming another favorite of mine (especially the first disc), and might even knock Sun Ship out of the top spot.