September 18, 2007

Talking Coltrane… Hearing Herbie and Haynes

Talking Coltrane… Hearing Herbie and Haynes

Not since Louis Armstrong played and sang “Black and Blue” at Symphony Hall in 1947…


Herbie Hancock

Or perhaps never in Boston has so much jazz talent gathered in our town, this week and next.

This is just to call Open Sorcerers’ attention to another Symphony Hall concert that your grandchildren will want to hear about.

On Friday, September 28, at Boston’s Symphony Hall, these artists are going

to play, separately, and together, in some new ways.

Herbie Hancock, who gave us “Cantaloupe Island” as a radio theme…

The hippest, most musical drummer ever in jazz Roy Haynes


Roy Haynes

Violinist (a.k.a. “fiddlechick”) Regina Carter

The first-family tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis

Piano modernist (and Herbie Hancock disciple) Geri Allen

Trumpeter Jon Faddis, whom Dizzy Gillespie called “the best ever, including me!”…

The limitless tenor-man and one-man horn section Joe Lovano

The gospel-choir graduate of “Dreaming Wide Awake,” Lizz Wright

Big-band jazz master for 60 years, Toshiko Akiyoshi and her partner on flute and tenor saxophone Lew Tabakin

The “instrument of wonder,” Claudia Acuna

The sought-after piano partner of Joe Lovano, and also Toots Thielmans, Kenny Werner

The Brookline-born bassist with a Stanford MBA Ray Drummond

The big-band pianist beloved of Branford Marsalis, Claudia Acuna and Joe Lovano Joey Calderazzo

The Bill Evans of younger jazz guitarists — “everybody loves him” — Howard Alden

The young bassist and songstress-without-words Esperanza Spalding

And the immortal hard-bop drummer, and last-surviving contributor to Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” Jimmy Cobb.

The concert has been put together by George Wein, who, as many of you know, founded the Newport Jazz Festival — in fact the very idea of jazz festivals.

It’s called A Celebration of Jazz and Joyce, in honor of the late Joyce Wein, George’s wife. And it’s going to create a scholarship fund at the Berklee College of Music for a very talented, deserving student. You can get tickets from the Symphony Hall box office.

And, in the meantime, there is a remarkable week underway of music and talk about John Coltrane to mark the fortieth birthday since his death, at 40, in 1967.


John Coltrane

Under the ever-vigilant auspices of Northeastern University, this combination of John Coltrane Memorial Concerts on Friday and Saturday mark “the world’s oldest annual performance tribute to the musical and spiritual legacy of the great master.”

Take a good look at the casting of stars here: from the University of Art Blakey, the brilliant Bill Pierce on tenor playing with the universal pianist Mulgrew Miller; and a John Coltrane Memorial Ensemble led by son Ravi Coltrane with a speaking part for the poet and Coltrane celebrant Amiri Baraka.

I will be posting my own conversations on Coltrane with Amiri Baraka, Bill Pierce and the New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff, whose new book, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound tackles the most difficult questions with respect. Have you, too, wondered whether Miles Davis might better have hired Sonny Rollins when he first settled on Coltrane in 1955? Did the departure of pianist McCoy Tyner in 1965, then finally of drum partner Elvin Jones in 1966, confirm that Coltrane’s genius left him some time before he died?

But don’t the magnificent scope and speed of Coltrane’s meteoric flight across the sky make him, still, the most compelling mystery in American music?

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