In 1960, John was still part of the Miles Davis Band, and was part of their European tour that Norman Granz had arranged with two other combos, The Stan Getz Quartet and the Oscar Peterson Trio. Part of the tour was to have been three broadcasts for a Dusseldorf television station, with each band recording a session. When Miles Davis, for whatever reason, refused to perform, John Coltrane stepped into the breach to lead his band. Granz also persuaded both Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson to play with Coltrane on a couple of numbers.
This early performance in his career shows Coletrane's potential as both a soloist and an improviser. What's especially revealing are his duets with fellow tenor saxophone player Stan Getz on two numbers, "Moonlight In Vermont" and "Hackensack". While Getz is a gifted be-bop player and shows it in his solos, Coletrane is already starting to move beyond that style.
In his solos, he has more layers and textures of sound than you hear in Getz's work. He's not deliberately trying to show Getz up, and what he does isn't jarring or out of place with the other performer. There's just more to his solos then what Getz plays. Note after note pile up in a cascading waterfall of sound that will soon become his trademark.
In the following year, when Coltrane returned to Europe, it was as the leader of his own band. Most notably this early version of his band included the incomparable Eric Dolphy contributing on flute and complimentary saxophone. Elvin Jones on Drums and McCoy Tyner on piano would end up being members of his permanent band for years to come and a couple of years down the line when Jimmy Garrison joined them on bass, they would become one of the best and most popular bands during their time together.
But to get back to the '61 concert for a moment with Eric Dolphy; since his previous visit to Europe, Coltrane had developed his own repertoire of songs including his magnificent reworking of "My Favourite Things". For this song he switches to playing the soprano saxophone, one of the most temperamental reed instruments this side of an oboe. However, Coltrane made that instrument sing and played it with the same confidence that he brought to all his endeavors.