A rare interview with legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane is getting new life courtesy of PBS series Blank on Blank, which animates classic exchanges with celebrities of every variety, from Dolly Parton to Meryl Streep.
The 1966 interview is one of Coltrane’s last, taking place less than a year before his untimely death in 1967 (he was only 40 years old). Pacifica Archives interviewer Frank Kofsky went out to Long Island to spend the day with the musician, and the resulting hour-long recording captures their time driving around the comparatively pastoral New York suburb.
Blank on Blank animators have illustrated some of the interview’s highlights, which center on his technique and practice habits. Though he had just attended one of Malcolm X’s last speeches, Coltrane shied away from the more philosophical questions, insisting that the music speaks for itself. “Music, being expression of the human heart or the human being itself, does express just what is happening,” he said on the question of if his work reflected the activist’s philosophy. The animation with which he discusses his mouthpiece, however, is something to behold.
In a rare articulation of his mission, though, Coltrane tells Kofsky “I know that there are forces out here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good.”
Watch a sneak peek of the animation, and listen to the full hour-long recording below.