Author Gary Golio vividly remembers the first time he encountered the power of John Coltrane’s music.
“I guess I was about 17 and I had heard of John Coltrane — I had never really listened to his music — but I thought it would be ‘cool,’ I’d be a ‘cool guy’ if I had one of these albums,” says Golio, who recently appeared on KMHD Jazz Radio to discuss his new book Spirit Seeker, John Coltrane’s Musical Journey.
Spirit Seeker is a story about the legendary Jazz musician for upper elementary school children . Referencing the shy, curious nature Coltrane possessed as a child, Golio weaves the narrative of Coltrane’s life with the emotions, feelings and talent that eventually made him a Jazz icon. Along the way, Golio highlights some of the fundamental lessons that kids encounter on the path to adulthood, including themes of faith, family, hard work, and the passionate pursuit of dreams as a way to overcome adversity.
Golio remembers his own discovery of Coltrane’s music as a turning point in his appreciation for Jazz.
“I was completely blown away, not just by the power of John’s music, but by the tenderness — the man has a lot of heart and it really came through.”
Each of the book’s 38 pages of narrative are lavishly illustrated by well-known muralist Rudy Gutierrez. “When I saw [the illustrations], I thought, ‘This is going to be really great,’” recalls Golio.
“I’d seen that [Gutierrez] does these amazing paintings of Coltrane. They’re multilayered, they have these icons and symbols and words and yet they also have some sense of abstraction, but also they can be very realistic — and he combines all this stuff, kind of effortlessly.”
Golio has written other books about iconic musicians for young audiences, including JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix and When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan.
To hear KMHD’s interview with Gary Golio, click on the audio player at the top of this article.