Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


My Faith, My Knowledge, My Being: Celebrating John Coltrane

The physical world we know greeted John Coltrane for the first time on September 23rd (yesterday), 87 years ago, in Hamlet, North Carolina. In celebration of that special day, we remember and celebrate the great gifts and contributions Coltrane shared with us through his music, and really through his life.

I don't intend this post to be a chronicle of Coltrane's life. Others have done versions of this. I just want to honor and celebrate one of our great exemplars.

I've long appreciated Coltrane's music, and only over time have I really come to appreciate the depth of creativity, honesty, exploration, depth and nuance in his pieces, increasingly so over the course of his life and career. Also over time, and only after having lived long enough to begin understanding more of the journey aspect of what it means to be alive, have I more fully appreciated the example of Coltrane's life... a continuous quest for deeper understanding and insight, and a corresponding quest for the fullest expression of that increasingly more complex understanding and insight.

Below are two clips of live Coltrane. The first is Coltrane playing "Alabama", written in honor of the victims of the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama on September 15, 1963. The second is a longer clip, featuring footage from several live Coltrane performances. In these, you can really appreciate the range of Coltrane's sound, and also the deeply spiritual place and space where Coltrane seemed to have lived his life - especially in his later years.

In Coltrane's own words (a fuller expression of sentiments and reflections shared throughout the book)...

My goal is to live the truly religious life and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there's no problem because the music is just part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being. (from Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews, p.337)





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