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.
I was first exposed to jazz by my high school girlfriend's father. On the one hand he was the school's Vice Principal, on the other
he was a big Miles Davis fan. He gave me my first jazz record, Miles at the Blackhawk.