By Danny Schrafel
Art advocates will celebrate the golden anniversary of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” with a series of performances at Heckscher Park this Sunday as eclectic as the landmark record itself.
Composed in his Dix Hills home in 1965 and regarded by music historians as one of the crowning achievements of jazz music, “A Love Supreme” is known for its global appeal and as “a culmination of his creative energies,” according to Ron Stein, president of the board of directors at the Friends of the Coltrane Home. The not-for-profit agency is dedicated to the preservation of the home in which Coltrane and his family lived for four years until his sudden death in 1967.
Like “most everything” Coltrane recorded, “A Love Supreme” was cut at the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and performed by the famous quartet of Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison on double-bass, Elvin Jones on drums and McCoy Tyner on piano.
“It cuts across so many different genres and cultures in terms of its acceptance as an iconic piece of work,” Stein said. “There was something that was so deeply spiritual about the music that it attracted interest from all kinds and backgrounds of the people.”
Coltrane’s son Ravi Coltrane, who leads a jazz quartet of his own, will close out the bill at 8:30 p.m., following a discussion of “A Love Supreme” at 7:30 p.m.
The all-day event, which includes drum/percussion jam sessions, and jazz/funk jams, along with sessions dedicated to music and percussion improv sessions, rap/hip-hop and beats and more, also serves as the unveiling of a music education program by the Friends of the Coltrane Home that John’s widow, Alice Coltrane, is “very keen on.”
Meanwhile, preserving one of the major vessels for which Coltrane advocates hope to preserve his legacy – restoring his 247 Candlewood Path home in Dix Hills, which was named the 11th most endangered historic place by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2011 – remains “slow and challenging work,” Stein said.
“The progress on the home is slow – I wouldn’t say steady – but it’s happening,” Stein said.
Since October 2006, they’ve raised about $100,000, plus an unspecified amount of pro-bono work from contractors, Stein said. He estimates it will cost another $100,000 – $150,000 to complete planning steps and “important basic restoration” such as masonry repairs.
Overall, he said the overhaul will cost anywhere from $2 million to $2.5 million to create the “state-of-the-art learning center” and “a beautiful environment around the home.”
Until then, Friends of the Coltrane House are hoping to spread the gospel of music through a music education program they’re putting the final touches on.
“We’re hoping to have a full-time program director who can help move and begin to move these programs into the schools even as the home is beginning to be restored,” Stein said.
In a June 23, 2011 Long Islander News report, Ravi Coltrane, who lived in the house until he was 6 years old, said the home provided his father “peacefulness, solitude” rather than Queens and Philadelphia, where he Coltrane used to live.
“You always want to drive by and be on the street where you grew up,” he said in 2011. “I assumed it’d be like that forever. The idea that it’d be torn down motivated the pursuit to transform it into something bigger as a tribute to John and Alice together.”
For more information about Sunday's event and The Coltrane Home, visit thecoltranehome.org.