I cry when I hear recordings of John Coltrane’s April 1967 Olatunji Concert. As I’m crying there are reasons why, tangled in jazz, and reasons are in the room in 1967, I am a lost recording of someone weeping in that hall, someone who knew of John’s liver cancer and felt the spirit of God that John’s friends felt that afternoon, divine anger and man’s quest to huff and vaporize death’s religious lie. A structured deluge of entwined reasons stiffens into prose, but John’s gone beyond, portal music, layers of percussive shock secreted through space between bodies and rafters, this gold-colored tube and its buttons, great wicked drone celebrations of struggle that cannot be discriminated into social and personal senses, mystic and tribe and lover have filled a hall with ouch and fuck and holy fuck, I cried because somehow this man found an authentic path, and there he is doing an inexhaustible source meditation, trickster Coltrane having sax’s last supper, eating his own liver, one of my favourite things, eroding surface and bedrock with sudden unpredictable breath,  he and Rashied Ali coping with forces stolen from gods of interstellar space, generative mischief devices, Alice and Pharoah and Jimmy on bass staying glued to the flame of the kitchen. I cry with joy for this lost recording of tears and dank mist from ’67, reasons for crying pressed into vintage pivots in a world line, space and time a vinyl press. High John de Coltrane, far away inside life, beyond waking and dreaming, arms and breath.

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After hearing the Olatunji concert I heard PBS use Kind of Blue as a soundtrack to the early 60s. Davis and Coltrane’s horns function as background for images of Kennedy riding through bright streets shortly post inauguration. I change the channel when the sound bite ends, we who devour Coltrane’s entrails, tolerable pieces of meat. Some minutes later I return as PBS paints a scene of the massive grassroots organization that crowdsourced the March on Washington in 1962. Very soon I again cry tears — MLK is having a dream. And again the lost recording of the scent in that crowd, history measured in phatic units now to seep through pores that he created.

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Apparently Coltrane made sax with the cadence of King’s speech in the aftermath of the 1963 church bombing at 16th Street Baptist, producing an October 7th love-child called “Alabama”. I wonder if we ever witness King going beyond his role, moving into free jazz land. I’d like to find a speaker that does something like Coltrane does at the moment when the bell is tolling.
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