John Coltrane

It's hard to believe, but September 23rd marks 91 years since the birth of John Coltrane, who left us way too soon in 1967 at age 40; that makes 50 years since his passing. So it's a good time, we think, to gather together and remember one of Philadelphia’s favorite former residents.

WRTI 90.1 will feature the five-hour radio documentary Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone, produced by Temple University and WRTI alumnus Steve Rowland, from September 20th through the 24th, every night from 8 until 9 pm.

A New Mural Rising to Honor John Coltrane

Sep 12, 2017

A 12-year-old mural of John Coltrane near his North Philadelphia house was destroyed in 2014 to make way for real estate development. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on a new mural now rising just blocks away, restoring the jazz giant to his old neighborhood.

Jazz giant John Coltrane was born and raised in North Carolina, died in New York, and in between he spent 15 years in Philadelphia. WRTI’s Susan Lewis looks at the role the city played in the career of this master sax player and composer, who would have turned 91 on September 23rd.

It took ten years to write Whisper Not, The Autobiography of Benny Golson, by tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson and his longtime friend, writer Jim Merod. Walking down the “corridor of life” Golson says, there are surprises, some delightful, and some not.

Even in a musical genre built on distinctive personality—jazz—the sound of Trane soars above. His tenor saxophone was unlike anything anyone had ever heard, then or since, and you voted him your No. 5 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

Joseph Bertolozzi

It’s heavy metal on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 14th at 9 pm on WRTI.org and WRTI-HD2. Techno DJ Steve Bowman starts us off with Pinches of piano and electronica. That’s followed by David Dzubay's Brass Quintet No. 1 from way, way back in 1988. The Prism Saxophone Quartet becomes a sextet for Dear Lord, a Coltrane arrangement by Dave Liebman (joining in on soprano).

The legendary Broadway musical writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II produced their final show together, The Sound of Music, nine months before Hammerstein passed away of cancer. Yet throughout all the songs of the show, there’s a great sense of hope and optimism. “My Favorite Things,” with its holiday imagery, and its reminder to remember one’s favorite things when times are sad, has been adopted and adapted by jazz artists and pop artists to this day.

Two Englishmen, Guy Wood and Robert Mellin, slipped it into the Great American Songbook just before it closed, just as rock rolled over sophistication. It begins from below, a slowly twisting Roman candle of a tune, and explodes in the top range of the singer, as the eyes of onlookers reflect the glory of what songs once were.

Born in North Carolina in 1926, saxophone player and composer John Coltrane spent over a decade in Philadelphia and then moved to New York. WRTI's Susan Lewis considers the impact of Coltrane, who expanded the boundaries of jazz with a wide range of styles.

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