April marks the celebration of jazz appreciation month, and this year Smithsonian Jazz & JAM are celebrating the 50 year anniversary of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” As a music educator, jazz enthusiast, and jazz vocalist, I plan on posting some of my favorite music (both instrumental and vocal) throughout the month as well as some information about jazz and the history of jazz. I hope you’ll take a listen, and learn more about the various types of jazz and the history of America’s greatest contribution to the music world.
Since the Smithsonian is celebrating John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, I’ll start there…
A Love Supreme / John Coltrane
John Coltrane’s Handwritten Love Supreme Manuscript
Whatch and listen to this amazing and gorgeous piece written by one of most prolfic and well-know saxaphone planets who ever lived: CLICK HERE TO GO TO YOUTUBE TO LISTEN TO THE SONGS!
More about John Coltrane and why he was important in jazz:
With Courtesy from biography.com – their original content.
A revolutionary and groundbreaking jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina.
It’s far from an overstatement to say that Coltrane was destined to be a musician. He was surrounded by music as a child. His father, John R. Coltrane, kept his family fed as a tailor, but had a passion for music. He played several instruments, and his interests fueled his son’s love for music.
Coltrane’s first exposure to jazz came through the records of Count Basie and Lester Young. By the age of 13, Coltrane had picked up the saxophone, and almost from the moment he first started playing, it was apparent he had a talent for it. The young musician loved to imitate the sounds of Charlie Parker and Johnny Hodges.
Family life took a tragic turn in 1939 when Coltrane’s father, grandparents and uncle died, leaving the household to be run by his mother, Alice, who found work as a domestic servant. Financial struggles defined this period for Coltrane, and eventually his mother and few other family members moved to New Jersey in the hopes of finding a better paycheck. Coltrane remained in North Carolina, living with family friends until he graduated from high school.
In 1943, he too moved north, to Philadelphia to make a go of it as a musician. For a short time he studied music at the Granoff Studios as well as the Ornstein School of Music. But with the country in the throes of war, Coltrane was called to duty and served a year in a Navy band in Hawaii. It was during his service, in fact, that Coltrane made his first recording, with a quartet of fellow sailors.
Early Music Career
Upon his return to civilian life in the summer of 1946, Coltrane landed back in Philadelphia, where, over the next several years, he proceeded to hook up with a number of jazz bands.
One of the earliest was a group led by Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, with whom Coltrane played tenor sax. Later he hooked up with Jimmy Heath’s band, where the young musician began to fully explore his experimental side.
Then in the fall of 1949 Coltrane signed on with a big band led byDizzy Gillespie, remaining with the group for the next year and a half.
Coltrane had started to earn a name for himself. But as the 1950s took a shape, he also began to experiment with drugs, mainly heroin. His talent earned him jobs, but his addictions often ended them prematurely. In 1954, Duke Ellington brought him on to temporarily replace Johnny Hodges, but soon fired him because of his drug dependency.
Playing with Miles Davis
A year after losing a position in Ellington’s band, Coltrane rebounded with another big break when Miles Davis asked him to join his group, the Miles Davis Quintet.
It was a huge recognition of Coltrane’s talent and offered the saxophonist the kind of musical and mental space he needed.
Davis encouraged Coltrane to push his experimental boundaries. More important, the sober Davis held him accountable for his drug habits.
Armed with a new record contract from Columbia Records, Davis led his band into the studio. The next several years proved fruitful for the band, with albums such as The New Miles Davis Quintet (1955) and‘Round About Midnight (1957). He also played on Davis’ seminal album Kind of Blue (1959).
With albums such as The New Miles Davis Quintet (1955) and‘Round About Midnight (1957). He also played on Davis’ seminal album Kind of Blue (1959).
There are two books that I always suggest the folks interested in jazz and that period of time read:
1) The Miles Davis Biography (lots of stories of Train)
2) A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Ablum
Both can be found on oneline store like Amazon.com or at any local or online bookstores. Remember: the history of the musicians and their art deserves to be told in a story, so that others can appreciate and love it and carry the torch either playing, dancing, or listenin on!
Some great choices for Pandora or Spotify:
John Coltrane A Love Supreme
Miles Davis Kind ogf Blue (Coltrane plays throughout the album)
Giant Steps remains one of Coltrane’s most famous pieces
There’ are a few good starts. Remember, it is we as musicians, ad ecuators, as dancers, as listeners, as enthusiast who must take the torch and pass it along for next generation to leaarn America’s greatest gift to the world of music: jazz.
We need the music to live forever. Won’t you help?
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