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Thursday, September 25, 2014

“John W. Coltrane - Happy (Belated) Birthday”

John William Coltrane was born on the Autumnal Equinox - September 23, 1926. He passed away on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40. The landmark album “A Love Supreme” is highly regarded as his seminal masterpiece. (Photo Credit - Cover of Impluse! Record Album)
John Coltrane Haiku:
The "Equinox" marked
Coltrane's birth. "A Love Supreme"
was his Masterpiece.

Although John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926, he is esteemed as one of Philadelphia’s most prolific native sons, due to the time he spent there during his developmental years.  It was in the City of Philadelphia that the preeminent innovator perfected his game-changing approach to playing the saxophone. Indeed, Mr. Coltrane was a card-carrying member of Local #274, the historic union and its social arm, the “Clef Club,” which was home to many of Philadelphia’s leading Black musicians during its hey day including other standouts such as Dizzy Gillespie.  So today, I would like to “acknowledge” the 88th anniversary of Mr. Coltrane’s birth.

Most people, if they’re old enough, remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when JFK got shot. Ditto for years later when the world was stunned by the brutal assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And true enough, die hard aficionados like me remember precisely where we were and exactly what we were doing the first time we heard the unforgettable sounds emanating from John Coltrane’s amazing saxophone.

Personally, I maintain (along with many others) that Mr. Coltrane’s seminal masterpiece was the recording of “A Love Supreme.” The album, released on the Impulse! Label, was recorded in one session on December 9, 1964 at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. At that time, the John Coltrane Quartet consisted of Mr. Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophones, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums and various African percussion instruments. The music from “A Love Supreme” (divided into four suites), as well as the liner notes written by Mr. Coltrane himself, resonate with a profound spirituality deeply grounded in the “acknowledgement” of the Creator. Those four groundbreaking tracks are:

1.  Acknowledgement

2.  Resolution

3.  Pursuance

4. Psalm

Below, I share with you a poetic tribute I wrote for “A Love Supreme.” This verse is excerpted from the “Story Poem” called “Reminiscing,” which is included in “Destiny,” my forthcoming volume of poetry. Here goes:

“...I remember back during middle school - when my oldest brother -  Sammie Jr., took me to the side one day and said ‘Hey Sis, you’re not ready for this yet, but I want you to listen anyway.’

“Then he pulled the shiny black vinyl disc out of its sleeve, placed it on the spinning turntable and introduced me to the monolithic genius of John Coltrane for the very first time -

“I was in Love…

“A Love Supreme, A Love Supreme, A Love Supreme, A Love Supreme...”

Asante Sana.  Peace and Blessings Always.

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