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The Cocktail Party Guide To John Coltrane

John Coltrane: stylistic change we can believe in.
Associated Press
John Coltrane: stylistic change we can believe in.

So you're at a company shindig, talking to a group of colleagues over hors d'oeuvres, when the background music finally becomes too grating to pass by without comment. "They should just put on some real jazz," your co-worker says. "Like Coltrane."

Because he claims to like jazz, he may well be insufferable. But you aren't trying to get on his bad side, and in any event, you don't have anything against reportedly good music. So, forcing enthusiasm, you assent heartily.

Yet your strategy backfires: You've only invited further interrogation. "Really?" he asks. "What are your favorite Coltrane records?"

With the late legend's Sept. 23 birthday imminent, it's even more likely that you could be caught sleeping on the iconic saxophonist's enormous discography. So here's a bluffer's primer to John Coltrane, such that you can comfortably (perhaps even honestly) respond to your interlocutor with the only socially appropriate answer to his question:

"Man, I have so many. They're all so great."

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