John Coltrane exerted an unequaled fascination on the young generation. His predominant instrument, the tenor saxophone, was particularly meaningful to them. In the fifties, 'the howling' saxophones of rhythm and blues had reinforced the virile image of the tenor; this image allowed for the most direct expression,from the low, violent-tempered register to the exasperation expressed by the shrill.
During the period of free jazz, three other instrumentalist in particular used it for the requirements of their respective projects. Pharoah Sanders continued the work of John Coltrane, with whom he had been associated for some time. He developed an extremely mystical and incantatory approach and borrowed exotic musical forms and instrument from many non-Western musical sources. Archie Shepp turned himself into a historian of African-American music through his emotional re-readings of John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker, and soul, blues and gospel music. Albert Ayler dared to scream. Mixing the most naive melodies for children with densely resonant fabrics, he placed conventional language beyond expression, favoring the immediacy of feeling.