5 Best John Coltrane Ballads

Jazz music has often been called one of America's most significant cultural contributions to the world, prized for improvisation and sonic experimentation, which is why the 5 best John Coltrane ballads are a startling change of pace for one of the greatest, most innovative jazz musicians of all time.

  1. "Lush Life" Coltrane rarely played with accompanying vocalists, but this 1963 version of the oft-recorded ballad, was sang by the mellow-voiced Johnny Hartman, and is transformed by Coltrane's incredible solo halfway through the song.
  2. "Favorite Things" At nearly 14 minutes, this 1960 version of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, is an epic rendition with great solos and Coltrane's use of the soprano saxophone to create a richer, deeper, sound texture. Not only one of the five best John Coltrane ballads, but widely considered a signature jazz song of the 20th century.
  3. "In A Sentimental Mood" In an effort to show a more traditional side to his playing, Coltrane joined jazz legend Duke Ellington for this 1962 collaboration of the famous ballad. Ellington's gentle piano playing is counterpointed by Coltrane's deep, mournful saxophone, creating another great reinterpretation of a classic song.
  4. "You Don't Know What Love Is" Plaintive horns and a mournful beat, distinguish this 1962 original song about the rigors and heartbreak of love. An easy-listening groove and lulling sense of rhythm, make this one of the five best John Coltrane ballads.
  5. "They Say It's Wonderful" This 1963 recording of the Irving Berlin classic, finds Coltrane again collaborating with singer Johnny Hartman in a song that burns with the ardor and desire of falling in love. Coltrane's saxophone is a soothing accompaniment to Hartman's rich contralto, creating a masterpiece of feeling that's easily one of the five best John Coltrane ballads ever recorded.
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