“I want to be a force for real good. In other words. I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good.” -John Coltrane
A new documentary about jazz saxophone legend John Coltrane is coming out next month. Watch the trailer for Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Story below. Continue reading →
Next Friday, September 23, would have marked the 90th birthday of iconic saxophonist John Coltrane. Though he passed away nearly half a century ago at only 40 years old, Trane’s legacy continues to cast an enormous shadow over the jazz landscape, influencing generations of musicians not only through his playing but also in his restless experimentation, never-ceasing evolution and spiritual quest.
Coltrane only lived in Philadelphia for about a decade, spending most of the 1950s in the Strawberry Mansion rowhome that is now a National Historic Landmark, but Philadelphia Jazz Project director Homer Jackson says that they were formative enough years that Philly has a valid claim on the jazz legend. “It’s important that we, as Philadelphians, recognize that John Coltrane was our neighbor,” Jackson says. “He was a person that lived in these streets, walked through this community, became a man and shaped his destiny here.”
More importantly, Jackson continues, Coltrane forged his groundbreaking sound in connection with a number of other Philly musicians at the time, only some of whom have gone on to find fame outside the city, an impressive list that includes Jymie Merritt, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, and Odean Pope. “He was part of a community of forward-thinking artists that helped shape his ideas,” Jackson says. “These folks were pushing the boundaries of what was going to happen after bebop. We think of John Coltrane as this individual voice, which is true, but he’s also the epitome of what that community was about.”
Next month, music fans around the world will be celebrating what would have been jazz legend John Coltrane’s 90th birthday on September 23rd. While Coltrane wasn’t born here, he moved to Philadelphia in 1943 after he graduated from high school, and lived in North Philly until he moved to New York in 1958. Philadelphia Jazz Project, along with WRTI, will be celebrating Coltrane’s music and significance over a nine day period from September 17th-26th with a series of free events including film screenings, media presentations, concerts, exhibitions and other special events. Continue reading →
On Friday, November 11, 1966, when John Coltrane took the stage of Temple University’s Mitten Hall, he was at a stage in his evolution when music seemed to erupt forth from his body, and it was all he could do to place his horn in front of it to channel the torrent of sound. At times during this particular concert that didn’t happen; instead, he steps to the microphone and sings/chants/bellows in an almost primal wail, beating his chest for effect.
In 1966, less than a year before his death, jazz legend John Coltrane performed a concert at Temple University and its footage has seen many bootleg formats but, according to Pitchfork, will be released officially as Offering: Live At Temple University this fall. Set to arrive on what would’ve been Coltrane’s 88th birthday, September 13th, the disc will include the full 90 minute show including songs such as “Naima”, “My Favorite Things”, “Crescent”, “Leo”, and “Offering” and liner notes written by biographer Ashley Kahn.
The show was recorded at Temple’s Mitten Hall Auditorium and according to this first hand account, was broadcast live on WRTI, Temple’s radio station.
Coltrane’s son Ravi Coltrane says of the new release:
For me the Temple recording is an affirmation that no, he didn’t exhaust the saxophone. The saxophone was just a tool—one over which he had a master’s command. His voice was an extension of the saxophone, as the saxophone was an extension of his voice. When you hear that transition on ‘Leo,’ it’s totally seamless in energy, vibe and intention.
[The film] explores John Coltrane’s remarkable Philadelphia years and features captivating interviews including those with renowned saxophonist and Coltrane peer Odean Pope and The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and historic footage of Philadelphia illustrating the urban context in which Coltrane moved his music forward.
There will be two free screenings of the documentary. The first, at the International House Philadelphia on August 7th, pairs the film with Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise and a Q&A with the production crew and former Inquirer columnist Tom Moon. On September 19th, the documentary will be shown at the WHYY Studios alongside performances of Coltrane pieces by Philadelphia’s Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble. Both events are free but require registration. More information can be found here. Below, listen to an excerpt of the John Coltrane Quintet performing “Naima” at Temple University in 1966 and watch a news clip on the Coltrane home restoration.
In 1952, legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane made Philly his home. Coltrane moved into a house at 1511 N. 33rd Street—which was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1999—with his mother, cousin, and a friend; three years later they were joined by his wife Juanita “Naima” Austin. Coltrane used the house both as a primary residence and a temporary base during his tours, while his mother and cousin lived there permanently. Coltrane was born on this day, September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina—and, in remembrance to his influence on jazz, we take a little video time-out to celebrate what would have been his 84th birthday.