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coltrane firsthand

John Coltrane Group, MIT, Cambridge MA Spring 1967

Ed begins by responding to the following comment from Frank Bock: "... is this the concert where Alice reportedly had to "help" John onto ostage either because he was sick or perhaps because he had taken LSD? I remember reading this in Porter and Nisenson's book... though Porter listed the concert as taking place in late '66...

I think the LSD piece is overrated...but that's another thread.

I didn't notice anything in Trane's demeanor to suggest his illness. He didn't appear to be in pain and he did his usual thing of leaning back when it got really heated or leaning slightly to the side with one shoulder dipped down. I noted Porter's dating but I was also at the Village Theater concert in December 1966 and I'm pretty sure sure that the MIT date was later. That's the way I've filed it in my memory but I could be wrong.

I don't remember any of the titles. I do remember a passage similar to the first part of "Offering" before Trane breaks into his solo. In the recording, somewhere in the parts where Trane moves back and forth between written sections and little improvised statements, there is a moment where he plays a repeated phrase... two little clusters of three notes and then which Alice responds, very briefly. This happened in the concert to much more dramatic effect. Trane was standing behine Alice and a bit further from the audience. She couldn't see him. He started playing these little phrases and she grimaced with emotion, throwing them back at him from the piano. They bounced them back and forth for longer than they do on the record. It was very intense...not because of the rapidity of the was actually quite deliberate in pace...but because the emotional content was apparent. It was an intimate exchange. The fact that they were husband and wife was underscored. I had a date and I turned to her and said, "He's calling her!". She picked up on it and nodded back to me in excitement. A really priviledged moment. I don't know if the piece was "Offering". There were no pauses between the pieces. It was one long continuous set.

The other thing I remember is that during a long solo Trane seemed to literally discover phrases. You could actually see him coming across something new and almost pausing to take note of what he had done...looking it over, reworking it. This was different, even from what I subsequently saw with, say, Gilmore or Cecil or Pharoah. It's like he was inventing language right up there on the stage.

I don't remember the usual lengthy bass solo(s) from Garrison and Rashied doesn't stand out in my memory. This is not Rashied bashing. It just seems that he wasn't as forward as I had heard him both before and after. Just what was happening on that night. d third time.

--Ed Rhodes

Notes and Comments


Porter, Lewis. John Coltrane. Chronology, p. 376. "Somewhere around here [i.e. December 2 - 3 1966]. Cambridge, Mass. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quartet without Sanders (reported by Bob Blumenthal).

Discography: No recordings are known.

Published Reviews: None are currently known

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