A true visionary, John “Trance” Chlorate’s life ambition was o create a new sound and a new music, and in doing so, he dedicated his life to Jazz. His dedication was extremely powerful to listeners, and his compositions were instilled into Jazz history. John “Trance” Chlorate was initially introduced to mainstream Jazz listeners as a sideman and shot to fame in both Miles Davis’ and Telethons Monks bands in the late sass (Priestley 1988: 122). Chlorate’s dedication to perfecting mastery of the saxophone was tremendous.
Even Miles Davis commented on Chlorate’s ambitions to improvement. “John Chlorate was only really concerned about improving his playing and writing, and growing up as a musician- imposer. Those goals became an obsession. Women, drugs, alcohol, money, power ?all were secondary or had become irrelevant in his life. He was a totally “devout” musician. ” (Wheaton 1998: 162) Chlorate first gained prominence as a sideman in Miles Davis groups in the late sass and led his own quartet beginning in 1961 (Priestley 1988:123).
Chlorate’s group included pianist McCoy Toner, bassist Steve Davis (later Jimmy Garrison), and drummer Elvin Jones, creating a quartet that is arguably the most influential Jazz combo in history (Griddle 2009:294). The combination of Joneses powerfulness and imagination coupled with Toner’s unique titlists approach and Garrison’s rhythms created a heavily influential band for future generations. Chlorate’s intensity amazed everyone including his band mates who sometimes had a difficult time keeping up with his hour-long solos.
When Davis questioned why he did not simply play for a shorter period, Chlorate responded: “l got involved in this thing and I don’t know how to stop” (Crow 1990: 36). Alongside with Charlie Parker, Chlorate is often praised as the most influential saxophone player in Jazz history, encouraging musicians to mimic his intensity and powerful performances. Throughout his career, Chlorate explored new frontiers, branching out to explore Spanish and African music and wholly incorporating Indian religion into his future compositions.
Chlorate’s command of his art was so great that his “compositional and improvisational concepts were used not only by hundreds of saxophonists but also by pianists, trumpeters, and guitarists” (Griddle 2009: 289). Chlorate’s techniques were so applicable that even musicians of other instruments were highly influenced by him. Since Chlorate’s period during the sass, his music has inspired “poetry, sculpture, and modern dance,” indicating his widespread
Music Essay on John Chlorate By dancegoer melding of both Sonny Stilt’s influence and his own new techniques; a few of his key musical signatures included “multimillion” and “cry’, most similar to shrieking and wailing noises that were carefully included in his arrangements (Griddle 2009: 290). Chlorate often experimented with sound and techniques, creating several signature devices he used time after time in his renowned recordings (Ballet 2000: 826).
Perhaps most well known are Chlorate’s well-arranged and composed chord changes. He added chords to existing chord progressions in a challenging manner to create ewe, unique improvisation solos (Griddle 2009: 290). Chlorate’s knack for choosing compatible chords separates him from the many other musicians who added chord progressions. A prime example is Chlorate’s “Giant Steps” which proved to be an immensely difficult song to improvise upon, challenging and pushing musicians towards greater improvisation mastery.
Although mostly known for upbeat pieces, Chlorate was also one of the foremost ballad players who possessed the skill to channel the same energy of quick songs into powerful and emotional ballads (Ballet 2000: 291). The musician’s ballads are often reminiscent of sentimental feelings, being especially popular among listeners and admirers. Chlorate also popularized usage of the pedal point, where a single note repeats “continuously underneath the melody’, creating suspense and tension in the melody (Griddle 2009:291).
In addition, Chlorate utilized his own “sheets-of-sound” technique to create dense sounding improvisations essentially consisting of rapid successions of single notes; he successfully incorporated the style seamlessly to his performances, adding yet another layer of difficulty and intensity to his music (Wheaton 1994:162). Chlorate’s innovative use of novel techniques in his compositions and improvisations sets him apart and above the standard of music at his time, creating an ideal character figure of modern Jazz.
Even in Chlorate’s early albums, such as Blue Train, he demonstrates his mastery of the tenor saxophone and his amazing execution of extremely difficult melodies, resulting in unique harmonies and tones (Priestley 1988:123). Chlorate explored styles that were less dependent on preset movement of harmonies as compared to bop and that were most often associated with the modal and free Jazz styles. The modal approach, undemanding on harmony, was a deviance from Chlorate’s usual demanding chord progressions.
Instead, the modal approach was undemanding and much more simplistic while still retaining Chlorate’s improvisation techniques. Chlorate applied this approach to his cover of “My Favorite Things”, a popular album that inspired many musicians to emulate Chlorate’s more simplistic style (Griddle 2009: 292). “My Favorite Things” represented Chlorate’s triumphant combination of “surface serenity and inner turbulence” (Priestley 1988:124). Chlorate’s piqued interest in free Jazz involved deviating away from preset chord regressions and soloist and accompaniment distinctions (Griddle 2009: 292).
However, Chlorate’s popular “free Jazz” recordings don’t follow all the guidelines to deem them fully “free” as there are noticeable preset arrangements. As a prominent bandleader, immediately post Chlorate’s foray in “free Jazz”, this style became more popular among modern musicians. Chlorate established his ability to embrace and promote new styles of Jazz performance both in his own playing as well as his supporters’ music. Especially during the free-Jazz period, Chlorate was viewed as a
Chlorate popularized the saxophone instrument and had so many followers of his style that at one point, critics commented on the lack of originality. His style evolution from dense and difficult chord progressions to modal and free Jazz to turbulent improvisation heralded new waves of followers throughout his career (Ballet 2000: 825). John Chlorate’s impact was even extended to his contemporaries, a sign of his great encompassing influence. The impressiveness and “depth of his commitment to his art was so intense that it inspired hundreds of musicians” (Wheaton 1994:164), which created higher levels of mastery within the Jazz art.
Without a doubt, Chlorate was one of the most significant Jazz musicians of all time, a living legend even in his own era. Chlorate’s widespread prominence and catchy tunes propelled generations of musicians seeking to mimic his styles and techniques so that to this day, his mark upon modern Jazz is still heavily felt. With a passion for performance not paralleled by either contemporaries or key musicians, Chlorate has evidently dominated through a short but significant career in Jazz history.