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50th anniversary of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' celebrated in Huntington

The Harborfields High School Jazz Band performs during

The Harborfields High School Jazz Band performs during Coltrane Day 2015 at Heckscher Park in Huntington on Sunday, July 5, 2015. The day celebrated the music of John Coltrane 50 years after the release of his influential album "A Love Supreme." Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Jazz tunes celebrating John Coltrane and other icons of his day were in the air Sunday at Heckscher Park in Huntington.

The inaugural Coltrane Day celebrated the 50th anniversary of his well-known and influential album "A Love Supreme," which he wrote at his Dix Hills home.

The crowd hovered between 100 and 150 through the day.

Baldwin resident Karen Benjamin enjoyed the festivities. "I wanted to spend a nice Sunday morning at the park," she said, noting that Coltrane's musical contributions meant a lot to Huntington and fans around the world.

"He shed light on Huntington," Benjamin said. "There's a connection. He made his biggest contributions here."

Longtime Huntington resident Charlie Russell, 84, said he bought Coltrane's signature record as soon as it was released in February 1965.

"I'm an old-time Coltrane fan," said Russell, a former trombone player. "I don't know where I picked up jazz from, but I always liked jazz."

Part of the day included a fundraiser to continue restoring Coltrane's former home in Dix Hills.

Ron Stein, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Coltrane Home, said on Sunday that $2 million is needed to transform the house into a museum and learning center.

Coltrane and his wife, Alice Coltrane, also a jazz artist, lived in the Candlewood Path home between 1964 and 1967, the last three years of his life. The family stayed there until 1971. John Coltrane composed music for "A Love Supreme" at the home.

"It's considered one of the most influential musical pieces of the 20th century," Stein said. Among those inspired by the album and Coltrane were rock bands Santana and The Byrds, he said.

While Stein said he was pleased with Sunday's turnout, he said he wants to engage more people of color to attend to help reflect Coltrane's music.

"He was a cultural giant who lived on Long Island," he said.

The day included jam sessions; workshops for both children and adults; and live performances by jazz band Bangalore Breakdown, New York jazz group Mala Waldron Quartet and Coltrane's son, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, whose performance capped the day's events.

Huntington musician Alice Fait called the celebration a "great day" but said she was worried Coltrane's music will become lost over time without more events like it.

She said many radio stations and jazz clubs prefer to play new-age jazz pieces instead of classic jazz from musicians such as Coltrane. "If it's not kept alive, it will die because nobody would hear it," Fait, 63, said.

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