William Claxton, John Coltrane at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1960

Claxton’s photo teases us a bit, with Coltrane pointing at the case. It does give the feeling of walking up the ramp and bumping into John Coltrane. Unlike his great photograph of Donald Byrd, we miss the horn in the public space.

Maybe there are other frames on the contact sheet with Coltrane playing in the rotunda? Maybe they were burned at the lab, like Capa’s D-Day images. Maybe it never happened – but we can still imagine the sound of Coltrane playing “Giant Steps,” filling up the Guggenheim.