John Coltrane is one of the most prolific jazz musicians of all time: that may seem an incredible statement to make, but it can be easily attested when you consider that, even before he started releasing albums in his own name, he was playing on releases by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, an artistic achievement that many would have been happy to consider the peak of their career.
Not Coltrane, however. From humble beginnings playing in a band formed during his time in the Navy, through the aforementioned period guest appearing on other artist's releases, his big break under his own name came with 1958's Blue Train, the only album he released as band leader during his tenure at Blue Note Records. This record has been certified Gold, and features some of the earliest examples of the "Coltrane Changes" writing style which The Trane, as he became known, would become known among Jazz lovers everywhere for.
The only way Coltrane could possibly move on from this effort was to become more experimental, and naturally his next major record, Giant Steps, released in 1960 on a new deal with Atlantic, showed Coltrane's compositions becoming more complicated. Indeed, the title track itself, Giant Steps featured a chord progression which pianist Tommy Flanagan appears to struggle to improvise over during the recording session, owing to the speed of the changes.
Coltrane never stopped experimenting with his sound. Whether it was his move from the tenor saxophone which had made him famous to the soprano saxophone in 1960, or his pioneering work in the fields of Free and Avant-Garde Jazz as the '60s progressed, Coltrane was simply never content to stick with what he knew. It is impossible to know then what the man might have done had he not suffered a tragic early death in 1967, at only 40 years old. The cause of his death is disputed, with Liver Cancer, Hepatitis and problems caused through Heroin use having been suggested over the years. What can't be disputed though is the talent that The Trane demonstrated while he was alive, both as a composer and a performer, and his legacy on musicians in years to come is still making itself obvious today.