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Cool and funky John Coltrane celebration in Huntington

George Ariza of Island Park plays his alto

George Ariza of Island Park plays his alto saxophone on stage during the third annual Coltrane Music Festival at Heckscher Park in Huntington on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Credit: James Escher

It might have been hot and humid Saturday in Huntington but the jazz, inspired by John Coltrane, was cool and funky and even delved into hip-hop and electronic music.

Heckscher Park hosted the third annual celebration of the American musical genius with workshops and performances, raising funds to restore the studio at his Dix Hills home where he and his late wife, Alice, recorded, organizers said.

The Coltrane Home, a nonprofit, plans to offer music classes to children once the basement studio is renovated, said volunteer Ingrid Campbell, of Northport village.

‘We’re going to have a studio downstairs for kids who may not be able to afford that,” she said.

The programs will help fill gaps, she said, noting “many schools are closing summer programs.”

Ron Stein, Coltrane Home president, estimated recreating the studio will cost about $30,000. He hopes to finish that project and reopen the home as a museum within three years.

“We’re developing a master plan with the National Trust” for Historic Places, he said.

The festival offered two hours of workshops starting at noon, with performances scheduled from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. A few hundred enthusiasts were taking part by the early afternoon, some eager for Alice Coltrane to also receive her due.

“People are suddenly realizing — as great as John was — if John wasn’t around, today would be about Alice,” Stein said.

“She was one of the most important figures in bringing Indian music into jazz and rock,” he added.

The Coltranes named their son Ravi, now a jazz saxophonist, after Ravi Shankar, whose classical sitar playing also influenced the Beatles.

“You can’t leave Alice out,” agreed Leslie Lyons, of Brooklyn, whose 12-year-old daughter, Gigi Kriegsmann, took part in the electronic music workshop and one solely for girls, offered by the female Antigone Rising band.

“I listen to so much jazz” at home, said Gigi, who plays the trumpet, “a little bit of bass,” drums. And “I sing.”

Another trumpet player, Kevin Manigault, 60, of Hempstead, who anticipates his 2 1⁄2 -year-old son will follow suit, said part of Coltrane’s enduring appeal was his “swagger.”

“It’s magnificent, it’s nostalgic, it’s engrossing,” he said.

To Bill Offerman, 46, of Port Jefferson, Coltrane “just took it to another level, he was always ahead of time, there is always something to hook you, something to draw you in.”

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