PATRICE RUSHEN & CARMEN LUNDY HIGHLIGHT 39TH ANNUAL WATTS TOWERS JAZZ FESTIVAL


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

Patrice Rushen and Carmen lundy
file photo by Robert Carmack Patrice Rushen & Carmen Lundy shown at Ford Theater Hollywood

Once in a lunar eclipse weekend you might get some pretty good entertainment in selected spots around Los Angeles, but to get great jazz, that requires planning ahead and research. for the last 39 years , in an unlikely area of south central Los Angeles wedged between a Junior high school , railroad tracks, some proud residents, and a Los Angeles landmark , built by an immigrant, Simon Rhodia of concrete, steel and broken glass.

The Watts Towers Jazz Festival took its familiar bow September 26 & 27th . The festival features a “Day of the Drum“, with supporting activities of all cultures and ethnicities celebration of drums, throw in Jazz from around the world by local, regional and international musicians performing on a live stage that looked like a revival tent. This writer had planned in advance to get there in time to catch Carmen Lundy & Patrice Rushen performing as single acts , but also together as well.

carmen Lundy
carmen Lundy

Carmen took the stage with her own group featuring her iconic bassist and brother, Curtis Lundy. After a couple of hot jazz numbers , Carmen called up Patrice to sit in with her group on  selections from  her 14th new CD as a leader. Rushen was simply stellar in her improvisations on cuts like “Life is a Song in Me” and title track, “Soul to Soul”. In my humble opinion , this is Grammy material. grab a copy at your usual source for purchasing   music online.

Patrice Rushen  and Ndugu are both products of the Watts community ,while being alumni of Locke High school under the mentorship of musician /Educator Reggie Andrews.  Patrice and Ndugu fronted an all-star band of Nedra Wheeler on Bass and Justo Almario on saxophone, Munyungo Jackson on percussion. In their set they chose to celebrate the genius of several iconic jazz masters, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver, and a couple of others to the audience’s delight. 

Chuk Koton- Patrice Rushen
photo by Chuck Koton

Weekend’s events were beautifully MC’d by Jazz program host James Janisse, and Poet Laureate and Griot ,Kamau Daood.

Jazz drummer Fritz Wise, Poet/Jazz griot Kamau Daood with Music journalist Robert J. Carmack
Jazz drummer Fritz Wise, Poet/Jazz griot Kamau Daood with Music journalist Robert J. Carmack @ Watts Towers Jazz Festival photo by Joyce Wilson
hand made Quilt made by artist, Ramesses
hand made Quilt made by artist, Ramesses

Patrice Rush NOW WATTS

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNY BURRELL !! August 1


posted by Robert J.Carmack   #@blues2jazzguy

Kenny Burrell

BILLY HIGGINS WORLD STAGE HEATS UP IN AUGUST : A CELEBRATION of LEGENDS


posted by #@blues2jazzguy

COMING ATTRACTIONS IN AUGUST 

Duke Pearson Right Touch LP

August 22nd– 7:30PM

Genius of DUKE PEARSON:Thanks Uncle Duke

Enjoy an evening of classic jazz and vocals paying homage to the great Duke Pearson, who produced some of jazz’s greatest albums and had a major impact on hard bop compositions and arrangements for big band and large ensembles. The evening’s  featured pianist is jazz veteran, Bobby West and five of LA’s best musicians.

Introducing guest vocalists Mechelle LaChaux & Pat Sligh 

Duke Pearson played a big part in shaping the Blue Note label’s hard bop direction in the 1960s as a producer. He will probably be best remembered for writing several attractive, catchy pieces, the most memorable being the moody “Cristo Redentor” for Donald Byrd, “Sweet Honey Bee” for himself, and Lee Morgan,  “Fancy Free” and “Jeannine,” which has become a much-covered jazz standard, among many others up until early1970.

August 29th 7:30pm

NOW’S THE TIME: SPIRIT OF OUR ANCESTORS

art Farmer Cedar walton w Billy
Art Farmer, Billy Higgins with Cedar Walton on piano (RIP)

An Evening of Jazz & Poetry featuring the music of some of our great jazz legends including Charlie Parker, john Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, GiGi Gryce, Art Blakey’s Jazz messengers and such vocalists as Nellie Lutcher, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lou Rawls & Joe Williams  all performed by some Los Angeles’s top shelf musicians…Featuring Anqui Renise and Amin El.

Special guest vocalists: Mechelle LaChaux and James Love

The World Stage 4344 Degnan Blvd LA 90008

ALL SHOWS start at 7:30 sharp   Limited Seating  RSVP preferred  – No advance tickets  call 951-840-7120

Donations: $15 – $20 (sliding scale)

World Stage Performance Gallery is a non-profit 501c organization tax-deductible

all shows produced by Robert J. Carmack & The World Stage

RETRO HIPSTER -SONNY FORTUNE: THANK GOD FOR THAT DAY JOB


posted by CHUCK KOTON,  Photo Journalist Contributor

“ I was in the learning stage and I was going to jam sessions with guys who became the cats. ”

Sonny_Fortune_photo

With an auspicious name like Sonny Fortune, could there be any doubt that this man would find success and fulfillment down whatever path he chose to follow in life. Fortune-ately for jazz lovers, he focused his talent and energy on the saxophone. Fortune’s destiny began at the beguine-ing; he was born at the right time, May 19,1939, and at the right place, Philadelphia. While the City of Brotherly Love has been considered a second-tier jazz city by some, Philly indisputably gave birth to and nurtured a long list of great musicians,many of whom went on to gain wider recognition after moving to New York.

Sonny Fortune at                                                                                            Sonny Fortune at Kitano color  KITANO-02
Sonny Fortune @ Kitano’s New York

The city’s fertile jazz ground may have first been seeded when bebop genius Dizzy Gillespie moved there from North Carolina in 1935. And those early seeds were surely fruitful and did multiply. John Coltrane’s family moved there(also from North Carolina), putting down roots on the city’s North Side in 1943. A short list of the many great players born there includes the Heath Brothers (Percy,Jimmy and Albert), Benny Golson, McCoy Tyner, Lee Morgan,Pat Martino and, more recently, Christian McBride and Joey De Francesco.

In a city with such a hip and historic jazz scene, Sonny Fortune did not have to go far to explore the music that would become his passion. In fact, he didn’t have to leave North Philly. “The scene was great,” Fortune says.”It [jazz] wasn’t something I had to go seek. The music was prevalent right there in the neighborhood.[Drummer] Sherman Ferguson lived about two blocks from me,and we ended up putting together the first band I played in.[Saxophonist] Odean Pope lived two blocks from me. Hasaan,the pianist, lived there. It was a very vibrant time.”

However, even though Fortune was born into this jazz incubator, he didn’t thrive immediately. He had picked up an alto saxophone but packed it away without making the necessary commitment to master the instrument. So what motivated Fortune to seriously pursue the music? “I had a horn and had become a little discouraged,” Fortune explains,”but at some point…Well, I guess it was my day job.  I was working at a corrugated box factory, and it was clear that job was going nowhere. I was always having issues with my boss, trying to get better wages and better working conditions. I decided I had this horn in my closet. I didn’t know about any programs [job training], but I had this horn. It was at this point that I started practicing four hours a day after I got back from work.”

Once Fortune became more proficient, there was no shortage of jam sessions where he could really get a jazz education. “Oh man, there were a lot of cats there,” says Fortune. “Cats from North Philly, South Philly..Germantown guys…I was in the learning stage and I was going to jam sessions with guys who became the “cats”. [Bassist]Reggie Workman, [pianist] Kenny Barron…I had to sit there for the longest time waiting to play a tune I knew. These cats weren’t gonna accommodate me.”

Sonny’s neighbor, Odean Pope, suggested a way he could get more playing time. “I was frustrated,” Fortune continues, “but Pope said I should try and find some guys who were my peers and start a band. So I started a band with Sherman Ferguson and a couple of other guys from the neighborhood.” It was around this point in his development as a musician that Fortune began seriously listening to the music of another Philly saxophonist, John Coltrane, who would become his life-long inspiration. Fortune has admitted that when he first listened to Coltrane’s playing with Miles Davis, he didn’t think Coltrane knew what he was doing. However, after hearing My Favorite Things (Atlantic, 1960) at a friend’s house, he was blown away. He bought the album the next day and Coltrane’s spirit has imbued Fortune’s life and music ever since. Sonny even studied at the legendary Granoff School because “Trane went there.”

After paying his dues and achieving a professional level of proficiency, Fortune packed his bags and his horns and moved to New York City. He had learned all he could in Philadelphia, now he had to put himself to the test and go where all the great musicians lived and worked. In the late 1960s he began playing with the great Cuban conguero, Mongo Santamaria, and, as the band spent a great deal of time in Los Angeles, Sonny briefly relocated to the West Coast. However, the laid back vibe of L.A. was not inspirational enough and he returned to New York, where, after playing with Elvin Jones, Fortune joined the band of one of those great musicians from the old neighborhood in Philly, McCoy Tyner. Although they were somewhat familiar with each other from Philadelphia, years would pass before they became friends. “My ex-wife and I would be sitting on the steps and I’d see him walking in the neighborhood and at dances,” says Fortune, “but I really didn’t get to know him until I played with him at this gig in Chester,Pennsylvania .

During his years with Tyner (1972-74), Fortune established himself as one of the most dynamic sax players on the scene. His playing on several of Tyner’s recordings, including Sahara and Song For My Lady, both released in 1972 on Milestone, already displayed his signature intense, urgent modal sound. After this productive association it was time to move on and up. In two years, Fortune would be touring and recording with the legendary Miles Davis during the trumpeter’s electric fusion years. From his experience with Davis, Fortune “learned the importance of the rhythm section,” a lesson that would serve him well throughout his career.

Many years have passed since Fortune took control of his own destiny and embarked on a journey of musical discovery. Just think, if labor relations had been cool in that Philly box factory,

Sonny Fortune might never have pulled his alto out of the closet. Thank God for that day job!

follow Chuck Koton on Facebook or hipster sanctuary.com

Chuck Koton

JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH:HIPSTER SANCTUARY SALUTES L.A. DRUMMERS


posted by #@blues2jazzguy       #jazzappreciationmonth

If You live in L.A. or, have lived in Los angeles for any length of time like myself, You would have seen, heard or experienced one of these guys or maybe all of them. One thing for sure,

Bobby DashikiI know all of them and they all are groove masters on their instruments.

Derf Reklaw, JMD(Darryl Moore),Don Littleton,Mr Taste (Thomas White) 

At Hipster Sanctuary.Com , part of our mission is to preserve the legacy and, acknowledge the “unsung musicians” who play this music with all their heart, soul and passion.

Let’s ALL Join Me and Hipster Sanctuary.Com in saluting and recognizing these “gentlemen of swing”. R.J.Carmack – Publisher/Editor in Chief                                                          Preserving the Legacy by “Any Medium Necessary”

Percussionist
Percussionist Derf Reklaw
Darryl Moore  JMD- Drums/ Recording Engineer/Educator
Darryl Moore JMD- Drums/ Recording Engineer/Educator
Don Littleton  Drummer/Percussionist
Don Littleton Drummer/Percussionist & bandleader with
MR. Taste!   Thomas White  Drums  celebrating 20 years with the Dale Fielder Quartet
MR. Taste! Thomas White Drums celebrating 20 years with the Dale Fielder Quartet
Mr Taste- congratulations on 20 years with DFQ
Mr Taste- congratulations on 20 years with DFQ

GIVE THE DRUMMER SUM’ JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH SERIES: ELVIN JONES


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

elvin-jones-thumb

Mr. Jones, a fixture of the Coltrane group from late 1960 to early 1966 and for more than three decades the leader of several noteworthy groups of his own, was the first great post-bebop percussionist. Building on the innovations of the jazz modernists Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, who liberated the drum kit from a purely time-keeping function in the 1940’s, he paved the way for a later generation of drummers who dispensed with a steady rhythmic pulse altogether in the interest of greater improvisational freedom. ja-ijd-jamLGBut he never lost that pulse: the beat was always palpable when he played, even as he embellished it with layer upon layer of interlocking polyrhythms.

The critic and historian Leonard Feather explained Mr. Jones’s significance this way: “His main achievement was the creation of what might be called a circle of sound, a continuum in which no beat of the bar was necessarily indicated by any specific accent, yet the overall feeling became a tremendously dynamic and rhythmically important part of the whole group.”

But if the self-taught Mr. Jones had a profound influence on other drummers, not many of them directly emulated his style, at least in part because few had the stamina for it. None of the images that the critics invoked to describe his playing — volcano, thunderstorm, perpetual-motion machine — quite did justice to the strength of his attack, the complexity of his ideas or the originality of his approach.

Elvin Ray Jones was born in Pontiac, Mich., on Sept. 9, 1927. The youngest of 10 children, he was the third Jones brother to become a professional musician, following Hank, a respected jazz pianist who is still active, and Thad, a cornetist, composer, arranger and bandleader, who died in 1986.

sweating elvin-jones-4
MR DAY & KNIGHT

He began teaching himself to play drums at 13, but he had lost his heart to the instrument long before then. “I never wanted to play anything else since I was 2,” he told one interviewer. “I would get these wooden spoons from my mother and beat on the pots and pans in the kitchen.”

After spending three years in the Army he joined his brothers as a fixture on the busy Detroit jazz scene of the early 1950’s. As the house drummer at a local nightclub, the Bluebird Inn, he worked with local musicians like Tommy Flanagan and Kenny Burrell as well as visiting jazz stars like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

In 1956 after briefly touring with the bassist Charles Mingus and the pianist Bud Powell, Mr. Jones moved to New York, where he was soon in great demand as an accompanist. He occasionally sat in with Miles Davis, and he later recalled that Coltrane, who was then Davis’s saxophonist, promised to hire Mr. Jones whenever he formed his own group. In the fall of 1960 Coltrane made good on that promise.   jazzapprmonthlogo_vertical

Working with Coltrane, a relentless musical explorer, emboldened Mr. Jones to expand the expressive range of his instrument. “My experience with Coltrane,” he told the writer James Isaacs in 1973, “was that John was a catalyst in my finding the way that drums could be played most musically.” He in turn influenced Coltrane, Mr. Jones’s ferocious rhythms goading Coltrane to ecstatic heights in performance and on recordings like “A Love Supreme” and “Ascension.”

Coltrane’s quartet helped redefine the concept of the jazz combo. Mr. Jones and the other members of the rhythm section, the pianist McCoy Tyner and the bassist Jimmy Garrison, did not accompany Coltrane so much as engage him in an open-ended four-way conversation. Audiences found the group’s intensity galvanizing, and many critics shared their enthusiasm.

But despite its popularity, the group divided the jazz world. John Tynan of Down Beat magazine dismissed its music as “anti-jazz,” and others agreed. Mr. Jones’s drumming, a revelation to some listeners, was dismissed by others as overly busy and distractingly loud.

elvin jones  midnight walk

Mr. Jones left the group in March 1966, shortly after Coltrane, as part of his constant quest for new sounds, began adding musicians. Although he never publicly explained why he left, he was widely believed to have been insulted by Coltrane’s decision to hire a second drummer.

Mr. Jones spent two weeks with Duke Ellington’s big band and briefly worked in Paris before returning to the United States, where he formed a trio with Garrison, who had also recently left Coltrane, and the saxophonist Joe Farrell. That group was short-lived, but Mr. Jones continued to lead small groups for the rest of his life. Over the years many exceptional musicians passed in and out of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, as the ensemble came to be known in all its various incarnations, and the group performed regularly all over the world and recorded prolifically.

Pulitzer Prize Winning, Jazz Icon, Bop Master & Spiritualist: John Coltrane



John William Coltrane (AKA, “Trane”; September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He organized at least fifty recording sessions as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk. As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane, and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist. Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane. In 2007, Coltrane was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his “masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.”Early life and career (1926–1954)John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926, and grew up in High Point, NC, attending William Penn High School (now Penn-Griffin School for the Arts). Beginning in December 1938 Coltrane’s aunt, grandparents, and father all died within a few months of each other, leaving John to be raised by his mother and a close cousin. In June 1943 he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Navy in 1945, and played in the Navy jazz band once he was stationed in Hawaii. Coltrane returned to civilian life in 1946 and began jazz theory studies with Philadelphia guitarist and composer Dennis Sandole. Coltrane continued under Sandole’s tutelage until the early 1950s. Originally an altoist, during this time Coltrane also began playing tenor saxophone with the Eddie Vinson Band. Coltrane later referred to this point in his life as a time when “a wider area of listening opened up for me. There were many things that people like Hawk, and Ben, and Tab Smith were doing in the ’40s that I didn’t understand, but that I felt emotionally.” An important moment in the progression of Coltrane’s musical development occurred on June 5, 1945, when he saw Charlie Parker perform for the first time. In a DownBeat article in 1960 he recalled: “the first time I heard Bird play, it hit me right between the eyes.” Parker became an early idol, and they played together on occasion in the late 1940s.  Contemporary correspondence shows that Coltrane was already known as “Trane” by this point, and that the music from some 1946 recording sessions had been played for Miles Davis—possibly impressing the latter.
There are recordings of Coltrane from as early as 1945. He was a member of groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges in the early- to mid-1950s.
Miles and Monk period (1955–1957)The rivalry, tension, and mutual respect between Coltrane and bandleader Miles Davis was formative for both of their careers. Coltrane was freelancing in Philadelphia in the summer of 1955 while studying with guitarist Dennis Sandole when he received a call from trumpeter Miles Davis. Davis, whose success during the late forties had been followed by several years of decline in activity and reputation, due in part to his struggles with heroin, was again active, and was about to form a quintet. Coltrane was with this edition of the Davis band (known as the “First Great Quintet” – along with Paul Chambers on bass, Philly Joe Jones on drums, and Red Garland on piano – to distinguish it from Davis’s later group with Wayne Shorter) from October 1955 through April 1957 (with a few absences), a period during which Davis released several influential recordings which revealed the first signs of Coltrane’s growing ability. This First Quintet, represented by two marathon recording sessions for Prestige in 1956 that resulted in the albums Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’, disbanded in mid April due partly to Coltrane’s heroin addiction.
During the later part of 1957 Coltrane worked with Thelonious Monk at New York’s Five Spot, a legendary jazz club, and played in Monk’s quartet (July–December 1957), but owing to contractual conflicts took part in only one official studio recording session with this group. A private recording made by Juanita Naima Coltrane of a 1958 reunion of the group was issued by Blue Note Records in 1993 as Live at the Five Spot-Discovery!. More significantly, a high-quality tape of a concert given by this quartet in November 1957 surfaced, and in 2005 Blue Note made it available on CD. Recorded by Voice of America, the performances confirm the group’s reputation, and the resulting album, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, is widely acclaimed.
Blue Train, Coltrane’s sole date as leader for Blue Note, featuring trumpeter Lee Morgan, bassist Paul Chambers, and trombonist Curtis Fuller, is often considered his best album from this period. Four of its five tracks are original Coltrane compositions, and the title track, “Moment’s Notice,” and “Lazy Bird”, have become standards. Both tunes employed the first examples of his chord substitution cycles known as Coltrane changes.
Davis and Coltrane again Coltrane rejoined Davis in January 1958. In October of that year, jazz critic Ira Gitler coined the term “sheets of sound” to describe the style Coltrane developed during his stint with Monk and was perfecting in Davis’ group, now a sextet. His playing was compressed, with rapid runs cascading in hundreds of notes per minute. He stayed with Davis until April 1960, working with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley; pianists Red Garland, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly; bassist Paul Chambers; and drummers Philly Joe Jones and Jimmy Cobb. During this time he participated in the Davis sessions Milestones and Kind of Blue, and the live recordings Miles & Monk at Newport and Jazz at the Plaza. At the end of this period Coltrane recorded his first album for Atlantic Records, Giant Steps, made up exclusively of his own compositions. The album’s title track is generally considered to have the most complex and difficult chord progression of any widely-played jazz composition. Giant Steps utilizes Coltrane changes. His development of these altered chord progression cycles led to further experimentation with improvised melody and harmony that he would continue throughout his career.“Giant Steps”
One of Coltrane’s most acclaimed recordings, “Giant Steps” features harmonic structures more complex than were used by most musicians of the time.
First albums as leader
Coltrane formed his first group, a quartet, in 1960 for an appearance at the Jazz Gallery in New York City. After moving through different personnel including Steve Kuhn, Pete La Roca, and Billy Higgins, the lineup stabilized in the fall with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones. Tyner, from Philadelphia, had been a friend of Coltrane’s for some years and the two men long had an understanding that the pianist would join Coltrane when Tyner felt ready for the exposure of regularly working with him. Also recorded in the same sessions were the later released albums Coltrane’s Sound and Coltrane Plays the Blues.
Still with Atlantic Records, for whom he had recorded Giant Steps, his first record with his new group was also his debut playing the soprano saxophone, the hugely successful My Favorite Things. Around the end of his tenure with Davis, Coltrane had begun playing soprano, an unconventional move considering the instrument’s near obsolescence in jazz at the time. His interest in the straight saxophone most likely arose from his admiration for Sidney Bechet and the work of his contemporary, Steve Lacy, even though Miles Davis claimed to have given Coltrane his first soprano saxophone. The new soprano sound was coupled with further exploration. For example, on the Gershwin tune “But Not for Me”, Coltrane employs the kinds of restless harmonic movement (Coltrane changes) used on Giant Steps (movement in major thirds rather than conventional perfect fourths) over the A sections instead of a conventional turnaround progression. Several other tracks recorded in the session utilized this harmonic device, including “26–2,” “Satellite,” “Body and Soul”, and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”.
First years with Impulse Records (1960–1962)
In May 1961, Coltrane’s contract with Atlantic was bought out by the newly formed Impulse! Records label.[6] An advantage to Coltrane recording with Impulse! was that it would enable him to work again with engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who had taped both his and Davis’s Prestige sessions, as well as Blue Train. It was at Van Gelder’s new studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey that Coltrane would record most of his records for the label.
By early 1961, bassist Davis had been replaced by Reggie Workman while Eric Dolphy joined the group as a second horn around the same time. The quintet had a celebrated (and extensively recorded) residency in November 1961 at the Village Vanguard, which demonstrated Coltrane’s new direction. It featured the most experimental music he’d played up to this point, influenced by Indian ragas, the recent developments in modal jazz, and the burgeoning free jazz movement. John Gilmore, a longtime saxophonist with musician Sun Ra, was particularly influential; after hearing a Gilmore performance, Coltrane is reported to have said “He’s got it! Gilmore’s got the concept!” The most celebrated of the Vanguard tunes, the 15-minute blues, “Chasin’ the ‘Trane”, was strongly inspired by Gilmore’s music.
During this period, critics were fiercely divided in their estimation of Coltrane, who had radically altered his style. Audiences, too, were perplexed; in France he was famously booed during his final tour with Davis. In 1961, Down Beat magazine indicted Coltrane, along with Eric Dolphy, as players of “Anti-Jazz” in an article that bewildered and upset the musicians. Coltrane admitted some of his early solos were based mostly on technical ideas. Furthermore, Dolphy’s angular, voice-like playing earned him a reputation as a figurehead of the “New Thing” (also known as “Free Jazz” and “Avant-Garde”) movement led by Ornette Coleman, which was also denigrated by some jazz musicians (including Miles Davis) and critics. But as Coltrane’s style further developed, he was determined to make each performance “a whole expression of one’s being”.
Classic Quartet period (1962–1965)
In 1962, Dolphy departed and Jimmy Garrison replaced Workman as bassist. From then on, the “Classic Quartet”, as it came to be known, with Tyner, Garrison, and Jones, produced searching, spiritually driven work. Coltrane was moving toward a more harmonically static style that allowed him to expand his improvisations rhythmically, melodically, and motivically. Harmonically complex music was still present, but on stage Coltrane heavily favored continually reworking his “standards”: “Impressions”, “My Favorite Things”, and “I Want to Talk about You.” The criticism of the quintet with Dolphy may have had an impact on Coltrane. In contrast to the radicalism of Trane’s 1961 recordings at the Village Vanguard, his studio albums in 1962 and 1963 (with the exception of Coltrane, which featured a blistering version of Harold Arlen’s “Out of This World”) were much more conservative and accessible. He recorded an album of ballads and participated in collaborations with Duke Ellington on the album Duke Ellington and John Coltrane and with deep-voiced ballad singer Johnny Hartman on an eponymous co-credited album. The Impulse compilation Coltrane for Lovers is largely drawn from these three albums. The album Ballads is emblematic of Coltrane’s versatility, as the quartet shed new light on old-fashioned standards such as “It’s Easy to Remember”. Despite a more polished approach in the studio, in concert the quartet continued to balance “standard” and its own more exploratory and challenging music, as can be seen on the Impressions album (two extended jams including the title track along with “Dear Old Stockholm”, “After the Rain” and a blues), Coltrane at Newport (where he plays “My Favorite Things”) and Live at Birdland both from 1963. Coltrane later said he enjoyed having a “balanced catalogue.”
The Classic Quartet produced their most famous record, A Love Supreme, in December 1964. It is reported that Coltrane, who struggled with repeated drug addiction, derived inspiration for A Love Supreme through a near overdose in 1957 which galvanized him to spirituality. A culmination of much of Coltrane’s work up to this point, this four-part suite is an ode to his faith in and love for God. These spiritual concerns would characterize much of Coltrane’s composing and playing from this point onwards, as can be seen from album titles such as Ascension, Om and Meditations. The fourth movement of  A Love Supreme, “Psalm”, is, in fact, a musical setting for an original poem to God written by Coltrane, and printed in the album’s liner notes. Coltrane plays almost exactly one note for each syllable of the poem, and bases his phrasing on the words. Despite its challenging musical content, the album was a commercial success by jazz standards, encapsulating both the internal and external energy of the quartet of Coltrane, Tyner, Jones and Garrison. The album was composed at Coltrane’s home in Dix Hills on Long Island. The quartet only played A Love Supreme live once—in July 1965 at a concert in Antibes, France. By then, Coltrane’s music had grown even more adventurous, and the performance provides an interesting contrast to the original.
Avant-Garde Jazz and the Second Quartet (1965–1967)In his late period, Coltrane showed an increasing interest in avant-garde jazz, purveyed by Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and others. In developing his late style, Coltrane was especially influenced by the dissonance of Ayler’s trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, a rhythm section honed with Cecil Taylor as leader. Coltrane championed many younger free jazz musicians, (notably Archie Shepp), and under his influence Impulse! became a leading free jazz record label.
After A Love Supreme was recorded, Ayler’s apocalyptic style became more prominent in Coltrane’s music. A series of recordings with the Classic Quartet in the first half of 1965 show Coltrane’s playing becoming increasingly abstract, with greater incorporation of devices like multiphonics, utilization of overtones, and playing in the altissimo register, as well as a mutated return to Coltrane’s sheets of sound. In the studio, he all but abandoned his soprano to concentrate on the tenor saxophone. In addition, the quartet responded to the leader by playing with increasing freedom. The group’s evolution can be traced through the recordings The John Coltrane Quartet Plays, Living Space, Transition (both June 1965), New Thing at Newport (July 1965), Sun Ship (August 1965), and First Meditations (September 1965).
In June 1965, he went into Van Gelder’s studio with ten other musicians (including Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, Marion Brown, and John Tchicai) to record Ascension, a 40-minute long piece that included adventurous solos by the young avant-garde musicians (as well as Coltrane), and was controversial primarily for the collective improvisation sections that separated the solos. After recording with the quartet over the next few months, Coltrane invited Pharoah Sanders to join the band in September 1965.
While Coltrane used over-blowing frequently as an emotional exclamation-point, Sanders would opt to overblow his entire solo, resulting in a constant screaming and screeching in the altissimo range of the instrument. The more Coltrane played with Sanders, the more he gravitated to Sanders’ unique sound.Adding to the quartet.By late 1965, Coltrane was regularly augmenting his group with Sanders and other free jazz musicians. Rashied Ali joined the group as a second drummer. This was the end of the quartet; claiming he was unable to hear himself over the two drummers, Tyner left the band shortly after the recording of Meditations. Jones left in early 1966, dissatisfied by sharing drumming duties with Ali. Both Tyner and Jones subsequently expressed displeasure in interviews, after Coltrane’s death, with the music’s new direction, while incorporating some of the free-jazz form’s intensity into their own solo projects.
There are speculations that in 1965 Coltrane may have begun using LSD-informing the sublime, “cosmic” transcendence of his late period.
After Jones’s and Tyner’s departures, Coltrane led a quintet with Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone, his second wife Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Rashied Ali on drums. Coltrane and Sanders were described by Nat Hentoff as “speaking in tongues”. When touring, the group was known for playing very lengthy versions of their repertoire, many stretching beyond 30 minutes and sometimes even being an hour long. Concert solos for band members regularly extended beyond fifteen minutes in duration.The group can be heard on several live recordings from 1966, including Live at the Village Vanguard Again! and Live in Japan. In 1967, Coltrane entered the studio several times; though pieces with Sanders have surfaced (the unusual “To Be”, which features both men on flutes), most of the recordings were either with the quartet minus Sanders (Expression and Stellar Regions) or as a duo with Ali. The latter duo produced six performances which appear on the album Interstellar Space.
Death and Funeral
Coltrane died from liver cancer at Huntington Hospital on Long Island on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40. His funeral was held on Friday, July 21 at St. Peters Lutheran Church in New York City. The Albert Ayler Quartet and The Ornette Coleman Quartet respectively opened and closed the service. He is buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Biographer Lewis Porter has suggested, somewhat controversially, that the cause of Coltrane’s illness was hepatitis, although he also attributed the disease to Coltrane’s heroin use.  In a 1968 interview, Albert Ayler claimed that Coltrane was consulting a Hindu meditative healer for his illness instead of Western medicine, though Alice Coltrane later denied this.
His death surprised many in the musical community who were not aware of his condition. Miles Davis commented: “Coltrane’s death shocked everyone, took everyone by surprise. I knew he hadn’t looked too good… But I didn’t know he was that sick—or even sick at all.”
The Coltrane family reportedly remain in possession of much more as-yet-unreleased music, mostly mono reference tapes made for the saxophonist and, as with the 1995 release Stellar Regions, master tapes that were checked out of the studio and never returned. The parent company of Impulse!, from 1965 to 1979 known as ABC Records, purged much of its unreleased material in the 1970s. Lewis Porter has stated that Alice Coltrane, who died in 2007, intended to release this music, but over a long period of time; her son Ravi Coltrane, responsible for reviewing the material, is also pursuing his own career.
InstrumentsColtrane played the clarinet and the alto horn in a community band before taking up the alto saxophone during high school. In 1947, when he joined King Kolax’s band, Coltrane switched to tenor saxophone, the instrument he became known for playing primarily. Coltrane’s preference for playing melody higher on the range of the tenor saxophone (as compared to Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young) is attributed to his start and training on the alto horn and clarinet; his “sound concept” (manipulated in ones vocal tracts- tongue, throat) of the tenor sax was set higher than the normal range of the instrument.
In the early 1960s, during his engagement with Atlantic Records, he increasingly played soprano saxophone as well, famously on the album My Favorite Things. Toward the end of his career, he experimented with flute in his live performances and studio recordings (Live at the Village Vanguard Again!, Expression). Eric Dolphy’s mother supposedly gave Coltrane his flute and bass clarinet after Dolphy’s death in 1964.
Religious beliefsColtrane was born and raised in a Christian home, and was influenced by religion and spirituality from childhood. His maternal grandfather, the Reverend William Blair, was a preacher at an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in High Point, North Carolina, and John’s paternal grandfather, Reverend William H. Coltrane, was an A.M.E. Zion minister in Hamlet, North Carolina. John’s parents met through church affiliation, and married in 1925. John was born in 1926. As a youth, John practiced music in the southern African-American church. In A Night in Tunisia: Imaginings of Africa in Jazz, Norman Weinstein notes the parallel between Coltrane’s music and his experience in the southern church.
In 1955, Coltrane married Juanita Naima Grubbs, a Muslim convert, for whom he later wrote the piece “Naima”, and came into contact with Islam.] Coltrane explored Hinduism, the Kabbalah, Jiddu Krishnamurti, African history, and the philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle. Coltrane also became interested in Zen Buddhism and, later in his career, visited Buddhist temples during his 1966 tour of Japan.
Since 1948, Coltrane had struggled with heroin addiction as well as alcoholism. In 1957, Coltrane had a religious experience which may have been what finally led him to overcome his addictions to alcohol and heroin. In the liner notes of A Love Supreme (released in 1965) Coltrane states “[d]uring the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.” In his 1965 album Meditations, Coltrane wrote about uplifting people, “…To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life.”
John and Naima Coltrane had no children together and were separated by the summer of 1963, and not long after that John met pianist Alice McLeod (who soon became Alice Coltrane). John and Alice moved in together and had two sons before he was “officially divorced from Naima in 1966, at which time John and Alice were immediately married.” John Jr. was born in 1964, Ravi was born in 1965, and Oranyan (Oran) was born in 1967. According to Lavezzoli, “Alice brought happiness and stability to John’s life, not only because they had children, but also because they shared many of the same spiritual beliefs, particularly a mutual interest in Indian philosophy. Alice also understood what it was like to be a professional musician”.
Moustafa Bayoumi, an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, argues that Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (recorded in December 1964 and released in 1965) features Coltrane chanting, “Allah Supreme.” However, in Lewis Porter’s book John Coltrane: His Life and Music (2000), on page 242, he describes the lyrics this way: “Coltrane and another voice—probably himself overdubbed—chant the words ‘a love supreme’ in unison with the bass ostinato”. In Peter Lavezzoli’s book The Dawn of Indian Music in the West: Bhairavi (2006), on page 283, he says, “Certainly in his opening solo in “Acknowledgment,” with his constant modulations of the same phrase in different keys, Coltrane assumes the role of the preacher. After stating the theme in every possible key, Coltrane concludes his solo and quietly begins to chant, “A love supreme … a love supreme,” singing the same four notes played by Garrison on the bass. After chanting “A love supreme” sixteen times, Coltrane and the band shift from F minor down to E flat minor, and the chant slowly tapers off.” Whatever the case may be, the liner notes to A Love Supreme appear to mention God in a Universalist sense, and do not advocate one religion over another. Further evidence of this universal view regarding spirituality can be found in the liner notes of Meditations (1965), in which Coltrane declares, “I believe in all religions.”
Lavezzoli points out that “After A Love Supreme, most of Coltrane’s song and album titles had spiritual implications: Ascension, Om, Selflessness, Meditations, “Amen,” “Ascent,” “Attaining,” “Dear Lord,” “Prayer and Meditation Suite,” and the opening movement of Meditations, “The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,” the most obvious Christian reference in any of Coltrane’s work.”[29] Coltrane’s collection of books included The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, which, Lavezzoli points out, “recounts Yogananda’s search for universal truth, a journey that Coltrane had also undertaken. Yogananda believed that both Eastern and Western spiritual paths were efficacious, and wrote of the similarities between Krishna and Christ. This openness to different traditions resonated with Coltrane, who studied the Qur’an, the Bible, Kabbalah, and astrology with equal sincerity.”
In October 1965, Coltrane recorded Om, referring to the sacred syllable in Hinduism, which symbolizes the infinite or the entire Universe. Coltrane described Om as the “first syllable, the primal word, the word of power”. The 29-minute recording contains chants from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy book, as well as Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders chanting from a Buddhist text, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and reciting a passage describing the primal verbalization “om” as a cosmic/spiritual common denominator in all things.
Coltrane’s spiritual journey was interwoven with his investigation into world music. He believed not only in a universal musical structure which transcended ethnic distinctions, but in being able to harness the mystical language of music itself. Coltrane’s study of Indian music led him to believe that certain sounds and scales could “produce specific emotional meanings.” According to Coltrane, the goal of a musician was to understand these forces, control them, and elicit a response from the audience. Coltrane said: “I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song and immediately he’d receive all the money he needed.”
Legacy
The influence Coltrane has had on music spans many different genres and musicians. Coltrane’s massive influence on jazz, both mainstream and avant-garde, began during his lifetime and continued to grow after his death. He is one of the most dominant influences on post-1960 jazz saxophonists and has inspired an entire generation of jazz musicians. In 1965, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1972, A Love Supreme was certified gold by the RIAA for selling over half a million copies in Japan. This album, as well as My Favorite Things, was certified gold in the United States in 2001. In 1982 Coltrane was awarded a posthumous Grammy for “Best Jazz Solo Performance” on the album Bye Bye Blackbird, and in 1997, was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Coltrane was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
His widow, Alice Coltrane, after several decades of seclusion, briefly regained a public profile before her death in 2007. Coltrane’s son, Ravi Coltrane, named after the great Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, who was greatly admired by Coltrane, has followed in his father’s footsteps and is a prominent contemporary saxophonist.A former home, the John Coltrane House in Philadelphia, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. His last home, the John Coltrane Home in the Dix Hills neighborhood of Huntington, New York, where he resided from 1964 until his death in 1967, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 29, 2007.
His revolutionary use of multi-tonic systems in jazz has become a widespread composition and reharmonization technique known as “Coltrane changes”.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed John Coltrane on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
Coltrane’s tenor (Selmer Mark VI, serial number 125571, dated 1965) and soprano (Selmer Mark VI, serial number 99626, dated 1962) saxophones were auctioned on February 20, 2005 to raise money for the John Coltrane Foundation. The soprano raised $70,800 but the tenor remained unsold.
Religious Figure
After Coltrane’s death, congregants at the Yardbird Temple, in San Francisco, began worshipping Coltrane as God incarnate. The Temple was named for Charlie Parker, whom they equated to John the Baptist. The St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church, San Francisco, which is fondly known as the “Coltrane church”, is the only African Orthodox Church which incorporates Coltrane’s music and his lyrics as prayers in its liturgy. In order to become affiliated with the AOC, Coltrane was “demoted” from being God to a saint. In 1996, documentary filmmaker Alan Klingenstein made a short (26 minute) film called The Church of Saint Coltrane. Another documentary on Coltrane, featuring the church and presented by Alan Yentob, was produced for the BBC in 2004. Samuel G. Freedman writes in his New York Times article “Sunday Religion Inspired By Saturday Nights”, December 1, 2007,
… the Coltrane church is not a gimmick or a forced alloy of nightclub music and ethereal faith. Its message of deliverance through divine sound is actually quite consistent with Coltrane’s own experience and message.
In the same article, he comments on John Coltrane’s place in the canon of American music. In both implicit and explicit ways, Coltrane also functioned as a religious figure. In 1966, an interviewer in Japan asked Coltrane what he hoped to be in five years, and Coltrane replied, “A saint.”
John Coltrane is depicted as one of the ninety saints in the monumental Dancing Saints icon of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. The Dancing Saints icon is a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) painting rendered in the Byzantine iconographic style that wraps around the entire church rotunda. The icon was executed by iconographer Mark Dukes, an ordained deacon at the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, who has painted other icons of Coltrane for the Coltrane Church. Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey included Coltrane on their list of historical black saints and made a “case for sainthood” for him in an article on their former website .
Reposted from Hipsters Collector Corner at Facebook groups researched by Charles Thierry – Jazz Fan