And now, the answer to yesterday’s trivia question:
“Without looking it up, can you name the only musician to record with both John Coltrane and John Lennon?”
What makes this question tough is that Coltrane didn’t pal around with rock or pop musicians, as far as I know.
There weren’t any pop musicians in his day who could keep pace with him. Trane died in July 1967, just as the rock scene began to produce improvisatory musicians of his caliber.
Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker of Cream might have struck sparks off of Coltrane. So might Jimi Hendrix and Hendrix’s original drummer, Mitch Mitchell. And so might have the 1972-’74 Grateful Dead. But, no dice.
So answering the question requires not that you build a bridge from Coltrane to the rock world, but from Lennon to the jazz world.
There’s no indication that Lennon cared much for jazz. But in the early, experimentative years of his relationship with Yoko Ono, the couple had occasion to cross paths with a few jazz musicians of the free school.
For example, the John Sinclair Freedom Rally — Lennon’s first post-Beatles public appearance in the U.S. — found he and Ono sharing a bill with, among many others, saxophonist Archie Shepp and trombonist Roswell Rudd.
The “Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band” album includes a track recorded by Yoko at an improvised live performance with Ornette Coleman and three of his musicians.
And another 1969 noise-improv performance found J & Y joined by alto sax player John Tchicai, who had appeared four years earlier on Coltrane’s free-blowing “Ascension” album.
Part of that performance ended up on “Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions,” the second of a series of experimental/noise albums released by John and Yoko in 1968 and ’69.
That makes Tchicai — who is Danish, and celebrated his 76th birthday about a month ago — the only man to record with John Coltrane and John Lennon.
The odds are pretty good that the average pop-music fan has never heard Tchicai play. “Life With The Lions,” which narrowly slipped into the Top 200 album charts, is pretty much his biggest mainstream recording credit.
What’s he sound like? There’s a bunch of clips of him on YouTube. We kinda like this one, in which he and Rudd meander sleepily through the Thelonious Monk tune “Pannonica”: