Living in an era of Coltrane and Sanders


Pharoah Sanders und William Henderson, Altes P...
Pharoah Sanders und William Henderson, Altes Pfandhaus Köln, 7. Februar 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It is hard to image the kind of creativity that existed when I was growing up until you look back at the first albums I bought through the record club were John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Ray Charles. My 45 collection was Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops and Martha and the Vandellas. It was an era of poetry and so I wrote and performed with a group of aspiring poets with funds provided by anti-poverty programs. It was an era of segregation, war, rioting and the beginning of what we called black power. Black people expanded from the narrow confines to what had previously been all white neighborhoods. Last night I fell asleep listening to Pharoah Sanders on You tube.

 

Sanders and Coltrane  were deeply spiritual people although that was not what drew me to their music. They were pushing the definitions of music far beyond what had previously existed and they were very distinct. When I left home  I looked for people who communicated and understood the same as me. It is not out of nostalgia that I am writing, because through technology I have been able to rediscover these giants. I said The Creator Has a Master Plan to a young co-worker last week and she thought I was speaking literally. I reassured that I was not. Yesterday for a brief time at the hospital I spoke with young people on the ward about Little Wayne and Chrisette Michele. The first Little Wayne I heard shocked and disgusted me so I turned it off. But then we found something about learning to love. And then I played a couple of forevers which I had heard on the radio. And briefly our barriers came down.

 

That is the power of music. Coltrane is long dead but his music is still out there. His wife, Alice, also died, But her music remains. And new music is being made every day. Some of it needs to be turned off right away, but I know my mother felt like turning off some of my music when I was growing up. I am looking forward to these next stages of my life and responding to whatever challenges I encounter.

 

 

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