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INDEPENDENT LENS: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

John Coltrane, the subject of John Scheinfeld’s documentary “Chasing Trane.”
Courtesy of Chuck Stewart
John Coltrane, the subject of John Scheinfeld’s documentary “Chasing Trane.”

Airs Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Portrait of Jazz Great John Coltrane Features Common, Kamasi Washington, Carlos Santana, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, John Densmore and More

Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, “Chasing Trane” brings saxophone great John Coltrane to life, as a man and an artist.

Written and directed by John Scheinfeld, “Chasing Trane” is the definitive look at the boundary-shattering musician whose influence continues to this day.


The film kicks off the new season of INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS.

The film features never-before-seen Coltrane family home movies, footage of Coltrane and his band in the studio (discovered in a California garage during production of this film), along with hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and rare television appearances from around the world.

Coltrane’s exceptional story is told by the musicians who worked with him (Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Reggie Workman), musicians inspired by his fearless artistry and creative vision (Common, John Densmore, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Kamasi Washington), Coltrane’s children and biographers, and well-known admirers such as President Bill Clinton and Dr. Cornel West.

Michelle Coltrane, daughter of John Coltrane
Courtesy of Michelle Coltrane
Michelle Coltrane, daughter of John Coltrane

“Chasing Trane” reveals the critical events, passions, experiences and challenges that shaped Coltrane’s life and his revolutionary sounds.

It is a story of demons and darkness, of persistence and redemption.


Above all, it recounts the spiritual journey of a man who found himself and, in the process, created an extraordinary body of work that transcends all barriers of geography, race, religion and age.

John Coltrane during the recording of “Blue Train.”
Courtesy of Francis Wolff
John Coltrane during the recording of “Blue Train.”

“The fact that, 50 years after his death, there had never been a definitive film on John Coltrane was reason enough to support ‘Chasing Trane,’” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “What I really appreciate is director John Scheinfeld’s full portrait of Coltrane as a man and a musician. What emerges is a noble person who, in his short life, transformed an art form and left an indelible mark on our culture. As one critic noted, ‘the fact that someone as wholly beautiful as John Coltrane once walked this earth is enough to make you maintain some kind of faith in humanity itself.’”

John Coltrane in concert. (undated photo)
Courtesy of Jan Persson
John Coltrane in concert. (undated photo)


Full episodes are available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast.


INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS.

"Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary" is on Facebook.

S19: Independent Lens 2017-2018 Season - Trailer

"Independent Lens returns November 6 for its 2017-18 season


Written and Directed by John Scheinfeld. Produced by Spencer Proffer, John Beug, Scott Pascucci and Dave Harding. Co-Produced and Edited by Peter S. Lynch, II. Executive Producers are Mark Pinkus, Bruce Resnikoff and Sig Sigworth. Director of Photography is Stan Taylor. Music by John Coltrane.