When Coltrane Explored New Terrain in the Pacific Northwest

In the Seattle Weekly, Steve Griggs writes about John Coltrane’s first and only performances in Seattle, at the 225-seat Penthouse club, in 1965. Griggs provides a snapshot of the saxophonist’s life following his groundbreaking album A Love Supreme, during a period of artistic transition. Coltrane was usually in transition. He was expanding his sound again in Seattle.

Seattle disk jockey Jim Wilke sat near the stage that night, set to broadcast the first 30 minutes on KING-AM. His introduction of the show, broadcast from the club, went out over the airwaves like a countdown to liftoff. Meanwhile, Coltrane had hired [drummer Jan “Kurtis”] Skugstad, who had a studio with portable equipment, to record the evening’s performance. With all the club, radio, and studio gear, there were more microphone stands onstage than musicians. Coltrane briefly borrowed Wilke’s headphones to check the broadcast sound. Handing them back, he informed the DJ that the song was going to last longer than the half-hour broadcast. Meanwhile, Skugstad kept feeding fresh reels into his recorder, capturing every detail of the performance.

The first set on Thursday clocked in just shy of two hours, with the first number lasting an hour and a half.

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