How to Celebrate John Coltrane's 90th Birthday Across the U.S. (And Online)
John Coltrane, the legendary saxophone player and composer whose innovations haven’t stopped changing music since his first professional gigs as a teenager in Philadelphia, would have turned 90 years old today.
Born September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, N.C., Coltrane played with Miles Davis (whose 90th birthday also would have been this year) and Thelonious Monk during their late-‘50s heydays, before quickly moving into more angular experiments that Downbeat described, at the time, as “anti-jazz.” Before his untimely death at age 40 (on July 17, 1967), the prolific innovator would release a whopping 38 records, including the eternally popular A Love Supreme LP (798,000 copies sold since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991, 26 years after its release), and standards like “Giant Steps” and “Equinox” (among many, many others).
To commemorate his 90th birthday beyond just throwing one of those many classics on your turntable (or play queue) -- certainly a respectable celebration in its own right -- Billboard has compiled some of the events happening around the country (and online), so you can ride the Blue Train wherever you are.
Sept. 23: Columbia University’s WKCR is playing nothing but 'Trane, all day and commercial free. You can stream the station here.
Sept. 25: In Coltrane’s native North Carolina, WCOM will air a three-hour tribute at 9 p.m. EST, including an audio documentary called "John Coltrane: The Great North Carolina Jazz Intellectual." You can stream the station here. Listen to an additional tribute from local musicians on North Carolina's WFDD here.
The new authorized Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane, directed by John Scheinfeld, hasn’t found distribution just yet -- but you can watch the first trailer (released in time for recent screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival) below.
Or just watch the legend perform a 20-minute version of one of the songs he turned into a jazz classic, “My Favorite Things” (yes, like The Sound Of Music):
Sept. 23: At Brooklyn’s Littlefield, the Brooklyn Raga Massive -- along with pianist Marc Cary -- will perform a tribute to Coltrane, who incorporated many East Indian influences into his later work.
Sept. 23 and 24: Former Coltrane sideman Steve Kuhn assembles a band at Birdland for two nights of tribute concerts entitled Coltrane, Revisited.
Sept. 24: As part of a nine-day series of celebrations entitled Coltrane At 90, the Philadelphia Jazz Project is presenting an outdoor concert called A Jam Supreme, featuring jazz musicians performing alongside DJs of all stripes.
Sept. 24: The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center is hosting a Coltrane-themed concert featuring local stalwarts the Carl Grubbs Ensemble and Rene McLean.
Sept. 23: The Thad Wilson Big Band plays Coltrane as part of the Westminster Church’s Jazz Night In Southwest series.
Oct. 1: Coltrane’s hometown hosts its annual “edu-tainment” festival to honor the legend, featuring performances from local acts.
Sept. 23: The BLU Jazz+ club celebrates Coltrane with help from Bobby Selvaggio and Theron Brown, among others.
Sept. 23 and 24: At Tula’s, the Richard Cole Quartet leads a two-night tribute to the jazz giant.