John Coltrane

Today marks what would have been jazz giant John Coltrane's 94th birthday. Two years before his untimely death from liver cancer in 1967, a young San Francisco couple heard him play — and their experience was literally religious.

They founded a spiritual community inspired by his music and 50 years later, they're still preaching that gospel at the Coltrane Church in San Francisco.

Steve Grossman, a saxophonist whose lunging projection, sure rhythmic footing and clarity of attack helped propel him into the spotlight in the 1970s, notably in bands led by Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, died on Aug. 13 at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, N.Y. He was 69. The cause was cardiac arrest after a long illness, his brother Myles Grossman confirmed to NPR.

July 6, 2020. Trained in jazz and forged in funk, alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin grew up hooked on Coltrane—Alice Coltrane. A friend introduced her to the music of John’s second wife, and she became enthralled. It wasn’t until some time later that Benjamin learned who John Coltrane was and that he could play a little, too.

In the liner notes to John Coltrane's 1964 album Live At Birdland, Amiri Baraka (then writing as Le Roi Jones) contemplated the gift the saxophonist and his band offered with this music inspired by the horrific deaths of four Black girls in a Birmingham church bombing inspired by white supremacist hatred. "Listen," Baraka wrote. "What we're given is a slow delicate introspective sadness, almost hopelessness, except for Elvin [Jones], rising in the background like something out of nature... a fattening thunder, storm clouds or jungle war clouds.

Getty Images/blindspot

On Tuesday, June 2nd at 6 PM, WRTI presented a special live program addressing Black Music as a form of social engagement.

When tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery first listened to John Coltrane’s iconic album Giant Steps a couple decades ago, it changed the course of his musical career.

February 17, 2020. At just 37 minutes, and comprising eight takes of only five distinct tunes, it’s hard to categorize John Coltrane’s Blue World as an album, per se.

Two Englishmen, Guy Wood and Robert Mellin, slipped it into the Great American Songbook just before it closed, just as rock rolled over sophistication. It begins from below, a slowly twisting Roman candle of a tune, and explodes in the top range of the singer, as the eyes of onlookers reflect the glory of what songs once were.

John Lamparski/Getty Images

When I was a kid growing up in South Philly, there was an older fellow down the block who was trying to play an alto saxophone. He wasn't doing well at it.

Jimmy Katz

September presented jazz enthusiasts in Philadelphia with a full calendar, with so many events in planetary orbit around the sun that was John Coltrane's 93rd birthday celebration. But September’s got nothing on October.

Pages