Coltrane’s Mouthpiece

I was on thin ice with the story the other day about John Coltrane’s mouthpiece. I mean, I think I really heard it, but I don’t have it tagged in my memory as to when or where, so when I wrote it I figured it was possible that it was either apocryphal or imagined.

I was reading the liner notes this morning to Ascension, an essay by Lewis Porter, which describes a day Coltrane and a young Pharoah Sanders spent in Oakland in the early 1960s “trying out mouthpieces in pawn shops.” And then I found this:

It was during this period, in early 1961, that he met visiting tenorman John Coltrane, and the two frequented pawn shops and music stores in search of reeds and mouthpieces. Sanders’ constant search for the right reed and mouthpiece has proven to be a lifelong quest.

So maybe it wasn’t Coltrane at all, but a transmogrified Pharoah Sanders story.

Whatever. All I know is that, if I really knew how to write, I’d do a piece about the day John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders spent wandering the pawn shops of Oakland, trying out mouthpieces.

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