Though John Coltrane died 50 years ago this week, the jazz legend’s legacy is as potent as ever. And organizers of Coltrane Day 2017 on Saturday at Heckscher Park in Huntington are focusing their efforts on inspiring new generations so that his legacy continues to grow.
Part of that plan centers on the John Coltrane Home in Dix Hills, where Coltrane and his late wife, Alice, raised their family and composed some of their most important music, including Coltrane’s masterpiece, “A Love Supreme.” The other part of the plan is to build a sense of community around the Coltrane Home, which is being renovated and expanded into a cultural center dedicated to the Coltranes’ music.
“Coltrane’s music is as popular as ever,” said Ron Stein, president of the Coltrane Home, which is sponsoring the Heckscher Park event. “But his humanistic qualities are what set him apart. . . . He was never an angry man. He always saw the best in humanity. He was focused on personal change.”
Both John and Alice Coltrane, whose own music is being rediscovered, believed that personal change could come through music and learning. So Coltrane Day 2017 is focused on music workshops for adults and kids as young as 5 years old.
“We want to teach them about creativity, about listening and collaborating and supporting each other,” said Stein, who said the workshops will encourage playing together. “We want to have a good experience for the kids.”
In addition to music from the Neville Brothers’ Charles Neville and saxophonist Kenny Garrett, there will be classes on how to become better musicians on every level — including improvisation, songwriting and learning to play hip-hop, funk, electronic music and even the Indian ragas that inspired Coltrane.
“We want to introduce a sense of community to people, especially parents,” Stein said. “This is really what Coltrane was about — bringing people together.”
Carlos Santana, who is the honorary chairman of the board at the Coltrane Home, recently told Rolling Stone that he still turns to Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” when he wants to chill out. “That music could compel a person who is strapping themselves with bombs to cry like a woman cries when she gives birth,” Santana said. “They’ll think, ‘What was I thinking?’ Coltrane’s music corrects a twisted and crooked mind.”
WHAT Coltrane Day 2017
WHEN | WHERE Noon Saturday, Heckscher Park, Huntington
INFO $10 adults, requested donation; activities and workshops free for adults and children; 631-223-1361, thecoltranehome.org
ALL ABOARD THE ’TRANE
This year, many artists are creating plenty of new ways to consider the impact that John and Alice Coltrane had, and continue to have, on music and society. Here’s a look:
CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY Writer-director John Scheinfeld recruited everyone from Common and Wynton Marsalis to former President Bill Clinton to pay tribute to John Coltrane for the film, which will be screened in Brooklyn in October. Denzel Washington speaks Coltrane’s words since the musician never did a television interview.
WORLD SPIRITUALITY CLASSICS 1: THE ECSTATIC MUSIC OF ALICE COLTRANE TURIYASANGITANANDA In May, the Luaka Bop record label released a compilation of music that Alice Coltrane recorded on her ashram in California. The music was previously released only on four cassettes in the ’80s and early ’90s. The inspirational combination of Sanskrit chants and synthesizer-driven soundscapes showed how she was still ahead of her time.
COMPASSION: THE MUSIC OF JOHN COLTRANE Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano assembled an all-star jazz band in 2007, at the request of BBC Radio 3, to pay tribute to John Coltrane’s legacy by playing songs from each part of his career. The collection was released in June by Resonance Records to mark the 40th anniversary of Coltrane’s death.