The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Posts Tagged ‘john coltrane

Coltrane’s sounds of spring

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It happens that it was springtime when I discovered John Coltrane — really discovered the power of his music — more than a few years ago. Although spring has been reluctant to show its face so far, this is what I hear when I think of this time of year. For me, “Central Park West” is a slowed-down, more pensive version of “Giant Steps,” as the artist takes the time to let his chord explorations develop — to blossom into beautiful music. In other words, perfectly seasonal.

Also good to remember that Coltrane broke even more ground with the soprano sax than with the tenor, way before it was corrupted into thank-you-for-calling-customer-service-please-hold music…


Written by cwmote

March 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Giant steps for the John Coltrane House

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In some ways, John Coltrane’s house is like any other in Strawberry Mansion. The three-story, Dutch-gabled row home where he lived from 1952 to 1958 was seen as desirable by North Philadelphia’s ascendent black middle class, literally across the street from verdant Fairmount Park and tied in closely to the city’s burgeoning jazz scene.

After decades of decline, there are signs of renewed investment in Strawberry Mansion, a neighborhood still beset by poverty and crime. Many classic houses are crumbling; vacant lots abound. Still, the former Coltrane residence at 1511 North 33rd Street, while vulnerable to the risks of age and abandonment, endures as a symbol of the city of Philadelphia’s rich music culture. The house—a National Historic Landmark—is the focus of preservation efforts to commemorate the jazz icon’s legacy and serve as an asset to the community.

The full story — recounting Coltrane’s spiritual awakening and examining the challenges posed by house museums — is now up at Hidden City and is also being published this week by All About Jazz. Exciting times ahead.