Sunday, June 24, 2018

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1965)

“During 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. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.”
John Coltrane, liner notes, A Love Supreme

John Coltrane [1926–1967]: A Love Supreme, released by Impulse! Records in January 1965.

The complete album was recorded in one session at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on December 9, 1964. The album is a suite of music that contains four parts: “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance,” and “Psalm.” The music is unashamedly devotional, with deep religious and spiritual roots, an aching search and a resolute and gracious acknowledgement of a Supreme Being and His Love.

Not your typical jazz album, no doubt, chiefly because the music is about personal transcendence, an honest declaration of spiritual awakening and of love, of reaching up, reaching out, letting go. It is about the integration of mind and heart, an integration that many of us seek. “Seek and you shall find.” The music touches our innermost being, our soul, bringing us to a place that finds Grace.

Less than three years later, Coltrane was no longer with us in a physical way, having been taken from this earthly scene when he was only 40. Nevertheless, he left us the legacy of his music and his spiritual inspiration, which lives on, as does the words to his declarative poem found [here]. It begins: I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord./ It all has to do with it./Thank you God. /Peace.

The Quartet
John Coltrane: bandleader, tenor & soprano saxophone
McCoy Tyner: piano
Jimmy Garrison: double bass
Elvin Jones: drums, timpani & gong

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stan Getz Quartet & Chet Baker in Stockhom (1983)

Stan Getz Quartet & Chet Baker play cool jazz at the Södra Teatern (Southern Theatre) in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 18, 1983. The oldest theatre in Stockhom, it dates to the mid-1850s. For the set list, go [here].

The Quartet consists of Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) Jim McNeely (piano), George Mraz (double bass) and Victor Lewis (drums); and then there is Chet Baker, self-destructive but brilliant in his understanding and self-awareness. Technique is less important than artistry; robots can master technique.

The music is timeless, floating above all the despair, pain and sadness that has joined together with the hope, inspiration and happiness in an admixture of light and darkness. Such adumbrates our great societal unrest, our unease with the status quo and our real feelings of impending doom.

Such has become the narrative of modern life, all of it man-made, a messy construction of humanity’s best and worst inclinations, abilities and traits. Awareness is only the beginning in this journey. The door is open for a spiritual awakening, a personal transcendence, an acknowledgement of a Supreme Love.

Friday, June 22, 2018

John Coltrane: Alabama (1963)

John Coltrane, with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, performing “Alabama,” on Jazz Casual (National Educational Television; December 7, 1963). The track is found on the 1964 album, Live at Birdland.

This is a response in music to the four girls killed (murdered) at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The four girls are Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14) and Carol Denise McNair (age 11); 14 others are injured, including Sarah Collins, the 12-year-old sister of Addie Mae Collins, who loses an eye in the bomb blast. 

A few days later, on September 18, 1963, Martin Luther, Jr. delivers an eulogy, a response in words to acts of hate and injustice. Words that rise to the occasion. Words that desire to console and give courage to the hearts of all men and women, regardless of the color of their skin. Such words, which likely inspire Coltrane’s soulful music above, are also well worth listening to today. One should never tire of correcting injustice, of working for justice, of turning evil into good.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Eulogy for the Young Victims, September 18, 1963. Dr King begins as follows: “This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God.”
Courtesy: Youtube

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959), which was recorded at the Columbia 30th Street Studio, NYC, in May 1959 and released in September 1959. This building was originally a church and transformed into a recording studio in 1949. How apropos! On a similar track, the album’s funky cover art is by Sadamitsu “S. Neil” Fujita, in matching the progressive sound of this music

The Musical Artists
Charles Mingus: composer, double bass Shafi Hadi: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone Horace Parlan: piano Dannie Richmond: drums Brooker Ervin: tenor saxophone Jimmy Knepper: trombone
Willie Dennis: trombone The Tracks Better Git It In Your Soul 0:00 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat 7:18 Boogie Stop Shuffle 12:59 Self-Portrait In Three Colors 17:56 Open Letter To Duke 21:02 Bird Calls 26:50 Fables Of Faubus 33:04 Pussy Cat Dues 41:15 Jelly Roll 50:25

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz (2009)

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz, a BBC documentary directed by Paul Bernays, first broadcast in 2009. The British broadcaster writes about that year, 1959: “Four major jazz albums were made, each a high watermark for the artists and a powerful reflection of the times. Each opened up dramatic new possibilities for jazz which continue to be felt: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; Dave Brubeck, Time Out; Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um; and Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come.” If art reflects the zeitgeist of a period in time, and music is its accessible language, then this musical documentary will help you understand such times as these, which led to the 1960s and the civil rights era with all of its attendant hopes, dreams, aspirations and opportunities for a better life for all of America’s residents. Such changes were not quietly planned in a dark corner of an oak-paneled private club, but were brought about in the light of day, in the light of justice, in the light of undeniable truth through street protests, through the courts and through the legislatures. Such is the way it is; change never comes easy. It takes a multitude of men and women of conscience acting on their conscience.
Courtesy: Youtube