In 1967 John Coltrane's tragic and startlingly quick death from liver cancer rocked the world which in some ways is still trying to catch its breath from the loss of the man but forever informed by his gift of sound. Cornel West was a child at the time of his passing, but he felt his illumination. He cherishes Coltrane's militant tenderness and subversive sweetness. From my vantage point, I see Cornel West as a modern-day superhero. This man is dedicated to African-American people and it branches out to all people. He has a deep understanding and love for Jesus Christ and it is as if the Holy Ghost informed him of his calling with a burning fire to find the truth. Coltrane stated, "Truth is indestructible. It seems history shows (and it's the same way today) that the innovator is more often than not met with some degree of condemnation; usually according to the degree of his departure from the prevailing modes of expression what have you. Change is always so hard to accept. We also see that these innovators always seek to revitalize, extend, and reconstruct the status quo in their given fields, whenever it is needed." Watching Cornel West lead the people with his innovative love, it is evident that there are also people watching from the side lines wanting to diminish his powerful voice, but it is not possible because his truth and courage are the real thing.
Interviewing him for this article he stated, "Coltrane 's music and life exemplify the highest of heights in the spirit of artistic excellence. I take my fundamental cue from John Coltrane that says there must be a priority of integrity, honesty, decency, and mastery of craft." Actions springing from hope and courage at this level are often only seen in fictional superheroes, but Dr. Cornel West is a real-life superhero very much needed in this tumultuous time. Although they never met, it is clear John Coltrane speaks to his soul as he lives a life in elation, elegance, and exaltation.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.