He first came to prominence playing with the first great Miles Davis quintet, during which time he helped develop modal jazz. His early solo works, however, extended the bebop idiom to ever more complex extremes, culminating in the extremely difficult composition "Giant Steps", the mastery of which is still considered a milestone in the development of any aspirant jazz musician.
In the early sixties, he pursued a more modal direction, eschewing harmonic complexity for driving rhythm and pure melody - in this he was helped by drummer Elvin Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner who together with bassist Jimmy Garrison provided the pulsating backdrop for Coltrane's increasingly extreme adventures.
Coltrane's last works border on the atonal, and are still considered extremely challenging for the listener.
- Coltrane (Prestige, 1957)
- Blue Train (Blue Note, 1957)
- Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960)
- Coltrane Jazz (Atlantic, 1961)
- My Favorite Things (Atlantic, 1961)
- Olé Coltrane (Atlantic, 1961)
- Coltrane (Impulse, 1962)
- Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Impulse, 1963)
- Live at Birdland (Impulse, 1964)
- A Love Supreme (Impulse, 1965)
- Expression (Impulse, 1967; final studio album, released posthumously)