The Jazzcat

The Coltrane Foundation Presents "An Evening of Jazz"

by on Oct.02, 2004, under News


Let me tell you that the John Coltrane Festival has been

going on for several years now and this my first time at the event. Hell yes

I’m excited!!! A festival dedicated to one of the true masters and innovative

heroes of jazz music, John Coltrane, has to be one of the most exciting events

to attend anywhere. As soon as I walked in the door of the El Rey Theater, I

was greeted by a number of my friends and jazz colleagues. There is an ever

present buzz in inside the theater. The music filling the reception air is that

of McCoy Tyner, long time musical compadre of Trane and musical genius himself

as well as that of Alice Coltrane, John’s most talented wife. I know it well

because it is one of my absolute most favorite pieces of music. It is from an

album done by McCoy called “Extensions” on Blue Note Records and it is one extraordinarily

beautiful piece of music. Alice

plays the harp and along with McCoy, Gary Bartz, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Elvin

Jones, heaven on earth is created.


Tonight Alice, Ravi, Oranyan and the rest of the Coltrane

family as well as many other special guest dedicate a night of music and

entertainment to the spirit, being, evolution and power that was John Coltrane.

At $100 per ticket, this venue is sold out. This event benefits the John

Coltrane Scholarship Foundation and keeping jazz alive is it’s motto. This has

to be the quint essential jazz event of the year and I am honored to attend

anything that is a tribute to such a creative inspiration for the world and for

jazz music.


On the bill for tonight are the winners of the 2004 John

Coltrane Scholarship awards, Savion Glover, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, Alice, Ravi and Oranyan

Coltrane. My main man Mr. Mark Maxwell, the humble facilitator of the sounds of

the creator, from radio station KPFK 90.7 FM was the master of ceremonies for

the evening. I knew that we were in good hands and in store for an incredible

night of music. Perusing through the El Rey Theater were musicians, actors,

straight ahead jazz purist, jazz writers and a number of members of the church of John Coltrane headed by Alice herself.

The stage was lit in an array of beautiful colors. Towards the back of the

stage, suspended from ceiling was a huge framed portrait of John Coltrane, the

focal epicenter of the evening.


Mark Maxwell appears from the wings of the stage and greets

the audience with kind words and a warm welcome. First up were the John

Coltrane 2004 Scholarship winners who performed a few Coltrane pieces as well

as some of their own inspired compositions named with John’s music in mind. At

the end of their performance, Michele Coltrane, John’s daughter, awarded each

of the winners with their medal of accomplishment and spoke on their behalf.  


Savion Glover was to appear next. This is a performance that

I have seen not too long ago at the Knitting Factory here in Los Angeles called “If Trane Wuz Here”. I

also just saw Savion perform up in Monterey

at the Monterey Jazz Festival a few weekends ago, a couple of outstanding,

non-stop, energetic performances. Unfortunately Savion was not able to make it

down to the El Rey Theater but, his counterparts Reg E Gains performed spoken

word to the alto Traneisms of Matana Roberts and they carried on in his



Branford Marsalis was next to grace the stage. He is

certainly one who has listened to, transcribed, been inspired by and cultivated

his own sound through the gifts of Coltrane music. Now I hear Trane in the

house! Branford and his quartet which features Joey Caldarazzo on piano, Eric

Reevis on bass and the “Tainish One” Jeff “Tain” Watts

on drums kill from the first note. These cats waste no time gettin’ deep into

the cerebral cortex of the music. The audience starts to perk up and as these

monsters of the music lay it on thick! As I watched and heard Branford play, I

could not help but notice the huge picture of Trane slightly sway back and

forth, almost like a nod of approval or blessings from beyond. Ravi was invited to the stage and the two traded phases

on “Giant Steps and a number of other Coltrane compositions. Everyone remained on

stage and Alice

appeared in vibrant orange apparel to a standing ovation by many of the members

of Coltrane church as well as jazz lovers alike. She complimented and vamped on

piano with the cats in a slow building, deep in the groove piece rich with the

colors of

Alice and the

textures of “Tain”. Out front, Branford and Ravi

were playing and creating the vibe that is Coltrane. Alice’s melodies are enwrapped in the spirit

and expressed so soulfully. Everyone left the stage and a synthesizer and an

organ were brought out. The instruments were draped in the same brilliant

orange fabric that Alice

wore as she began to play. Oranyan came on stage and they proceeded to perform

a lovely original duet.


With everyone back on stage of course the finally was none

other than John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. Three of the most dauntingly

powerful words in all of jazz music. Alice

switches to organ for this tune and proceeds to lay down some “Ra chords from

the Sun”! An outstanding evening in celebration of the roots of powerful,

spiritual, creative musical thought. So much comes to mind from those who knew

him as well as those who only knew his music. We are all blessed by his music

and his name will live forever, John Coltrane!



LeRoy Downs


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