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coltrane firsthand

John Coltrane Quartet. 'Newport Jazz Festival', Newport RI, July 7, 1963

I was at Newport for this one, and it was life-affirming--great!

What I remember: Roy Haynes played more like Elvin, less like Roy because of audience expectation? or a sense of competition? McCoy Tyner sounded as if his style was evolving (now, it doesn't seem like much, but at the time one had the sense he was creating a new style). Coltrane thrilled those of us who wanted the music to move beyond, an intensity equal to our (young) (melodramatic) questions of life and how to live it. Even now I feel that his performance pushed the mainstream audience (at Newport, then the USA and the world) into another place---he took them with him.

Two years later it was then possible to have the Jazz Composers Orchestra appear in the afternoon (with great solos by John Tchicai and Charles Davis, particularly), alongside Archie Shepp's group (check NEW THING AT NEWPORT). By the time of Coltrane's death, a larger number of people were checking out Cecil, Sun Ra, Ayler-- and this was every bit the correlate of the media version of the sixties, Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and electric "Like a Rolling Stone," for example, or the Motown revolution, San Francisco sound, etc. Young people were unifying, clarifying, reaching inside themselves and helping to define themselves (and the times). It's difficult to speak of this without sounding grand or nostalgic, but think, those of you under 30, how much Coltrane means to you NOW, how much the music of 1958-1968 fuels present fans, musicians (of all types).

At the concert, once again, I felt the division of jazz acts, the expected pleasures of hearing certain artists do their thing, on one hand; and then, on the other, the excitement of the search: Coltrane.

--David Gitin

Notes and Comments


John Coltrane. Chronology, p. 370


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