Category: John Coltrane

  • The Happy Heaven of Harlem

    Many artists moved to Harlem, where they were free to cultivate the inner life. Langston Hughes, the most famous poet of the Harlem Renaissance, reading his poem “I, Too”: The Harlem Renaissance was the artistic flowering of the Great Migration. As Duke Ellington wrote in “Drop Me Off in Harlem”: I don’t want your Dixie,You […]

  • A Love Supreme

    Coltrane’s bare-bones score for his masterpiece, the four-movement suite A Love Supreme, which was recorded in one session in December, 1964: Coltrane has noted in the manuscript that the piece should be played “in all keys together.” As his biographer Lewis Porter says, at the end of the first movement (titled “Acknowledgment”): Coltrane’s more or […]

  • Freedom Now?

    The “Greensboro Four” sitting in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, 1960. Read about the protests here. The cover of drummer Max Roach’s 1961 album We Insist! was an explicit reference to the Greensboro protests. We Insist! drew analogies between social and political freedom, and the aesthetic freedom of Roach’s music. The Max Roach Quintet performing “Driva […]

  • Birmingham Sunday

    On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the KKK bombed of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Four young girls on their way to Bible study were killed. The (white) folksinger Richard Fariña wrote a song to commemorate the tragedy, “Birmingham Sunday”: The tune of Fariña’s song is taken from the Scottish folksong “I Loved A […]