John & Alice Coltrane’s NY home named ‘National Treasure’ — go visit!
The home where John and Alice Coltrane lived in Huntington, NY -- also where John wrote the legendary, jazz masterpiece A Love Supreme and where Alice recorded most of her first five fantastic albums -- has been officially declared a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The news was announced Tuesday morning (10/9) at a press conference at the Coltrane Home. The NTHP will help restore the home, which has fallen into disrepair, and overseen its preservation. From The New York Times:
Plans for the property include renovation of the home (recent efforts have included replacing the roof, rebuilding the chimney and fighting mold) and, eventually, the installation of a public park on the surrounding land. The Friends of the Coltrane Home, the group that manages the property, also hopes to offer music education programs there. Earlier this year, the group was awarded a $75,000 grant by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative of the National Trust, to hire a project manager to help them achieve those goals.
“Restoring and reusing the home for music education and outreach presents an outstanding opportunity to honor the Coltranes’ values of innovation, creativity, hard work and self-empowerment,” Stephanie Meeks, the president and chief executive of the National Trust, said in a statement.
In conjunction with the news, Jazz at Lincoln Center is hosting a free John & Alice Coltrane listening event on today at 5 PM featuring host Ken Druker and panelists Dave Liebman, Lakecia Benjamin, Michelle Coltrane and Brandee Youngs. Then at 6 PM at Jazz at Lincoln Center there's a presentation and meet-and-greet with musicians on Tuesday (10/9) at 6 PM:
At the presentation, a special proclamation will be given to prominent Derek Trucks, deeply influenced by John Coltrane, and piano legend McCoy Tyner, member of John Coltrane’s acclaimed “classic quartet” – both of whom are joining the Honorary Board of the John and Alice Coltrane Home.
In addition to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s hosting of the evening event, the program is also supported by Verve & Impulse Records (“Both Directions at Once”) and Luaka Bop (“The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda”).
Head here for more info.
This past July 17 marked 51 years since the passing of jazz legend and saxophonist John Coltrane. Coltrane died at a tragically young age, just short of his 41st birthday, of liver cancer in Huntington Hospital on Long Island, NY. There was also a bit of activity for both John and his late wife Alice with recordings being issued/reissued by both.
In June, Impulse/Verve Records released a long-lost recording session from March 6, 1963 titled Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album. The album features the legendary “classic quartet” of John Coltrane on sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums performing a couple untitled originals, four early takes of "Impressions" (one of his greatest tracks), two takes of "One Up, One Down," a run through of "Slow Blues" and two cover songs. The masters to these sessions were tragically disposed of by Verve in the seventies while clearing space in their vaults but a lone reference tape survived and was discovered by the Coltrane family a few years ago.
Just a year earlier Luaka Bop released a recording by Alice Coltrane titled World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda compiling tracks from cassette only releases that were distributed exclusively to members of Alice’s Ashram in California.
Both recordings are fantastic, powerful releases that are welcome and worthy additions to both musician’s stellar catalogues. Stream them below.
Earlier this year, I revisited the Coltrane Home and their graves which are in Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY (Plot: Greenlawn Division, Section 31, Block 4, Range 2, Grave 13). There are pictures in the gallery above. You may not be aware that this historic home and gravesite are so close by and easy to get to from NYC. The home is right off the Long Island Expressway between exits 51 and 52 and you can take a LIRR train to the Pinelawn stop and the grave is within easy walking distance from the station. Go visit and show your support by donating and/or attending some of the many excellent events The Coltrane Home holds.
RIP John and Alice, your music continues to be unearthed and inspires all who listen.
photos and words by Greg Cristman