Sep 15, 2010

John Coltrane's Alabama

On this very date in 1963, four young black girls were killed by racist-planted explosives at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King delivered the stirring funeral eulogy three days later.

In attendance was John Coltrane. Inspired by both the tragic events and the moving oratory, the legendary saxophonist reacted in the only way he was capable: by creating a jazz composition. Thus begat Alabama.

The sax lines were based on Coltrane's memory and interpretation of King’s resonating funeral speech patterns. Then, five minutes in, the song shifts into elevated, thundering convulsions, keyed by the drumming of Elvin Jones. This represents the point in King's speech where he moved from individual mourning and made a call for a collective, renewed and determined struggle. It worked.

The John Coltrane Quartet, playing Alabama:


Lumpy said...

Coltrane's son Ravi just played at the Albany Jazz Fest. Genetics is an interesting science, is it not?

Phil the Thrill said...

Most interesting is your thoughtful comment on this historic (yet largely unknown) day, linked to the touching materpiece of one of the great artists of the 20th century.

Compare this to one of your competing local bloggers, who just now has a story up marking the death of rapper Tupac and claiming what a great man he was.

There is quality and there is trash. I guess we should expect both. Just why is it nearly all trash today?

Just saying.

Keep up the fine work, my friend. I still miss your paper.

Nanoburgh? said...


While we are in general agreement on the relative historic merit of the two individuals in question, I must ask you these questions:

1) Who exactly am I competing against?

2) Why are we competing?

3) Most importantly: what are we competing for?

I mean, is there a prize awaiting one of us, like a trophy or a name on a wall?

Homer J said...

It's called Ghetto Culture.

Look back at old photos of how this country was a few decades ago. Gnetlemen put ona coat and tie before thay went out into the public. Even if they went to a ball game, they showed respect to pne another. Look at the video you have of them men playing music.

Now look at today. What are th odds that 4 rap heads would have on a tie? Heck, they'll be looking like a biker gand and packing lead and inable to speak the native languiage in a clear and concise tone.

Anonymous said...

I liked the Flight of the Bumblebee better. It only lasted a minute.

Homer J said...

How's a fresh cup of java sound?