Fifty Years of a Masterpiece – Azar Lawrence Quartet Pays Homage to A Love Supreme At Jazz Standard

“No matter what…it is with God.  He is gracious and merciful.  His way is in love, through which we all are.  It is truly – a love supreme.” – John Coltrane.  On December 9, 1964 the John Coltrane Quartet, consisting of John Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums visited the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs to record one of the most influential, brilliant concept albums ever recorded.  That album was A Love Supreme.

A Love Supreme was recorded in a single session and is considered Coltrane’s most seminal work.  It is poetic, a sermon and a testimony translated into a magnificent aural feast that inspires the most rapturous emotions about God, spirituality and enlightenment.   To listen to A Love Supreme can be inspiring and life changing; it’s the type of work most artists strive to achieve, not matter the medium, but are lucky if they get remotely close to.  Coltrane died almost three years after this recording at the age of 40.  He never got to witness how this opus impacted the music world, but I feel safe in saying that Coltrane’s autobiography and legacy was summed up in this piece.  For me it was the musical equivalent to the “Big Bang Theory” – a melodic explosion that created an alternate universe where I was able to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the world in which our bodies reside. In other words, A Love Supreme was an introduction to the metaphysical plane here on Earth.

Jazz StandardIt has been 50 years since Coltrane and company recorded A Love Supreme in Englewood, New Jersey, and its relevance is just as potent today as it was back in the 1960s.  In recognition of this important contribution to jazz and American music, Jazz Standard enlisted saxophone virtuoso Azar Lawrence to celebrate the creation and recording of this masterpiece.  The Azar Lawrence Quartet includes Benito Gonzalez on piano, Billy Hart on drums and Reggie Workman, who worked with Coltrane, on bass. The celebration was over two nights, December 9 and 10, and was a fitting tribute to this piece.  Coltrane once said, “God breathes through us so completely…so gently we hardly feel it… yet, it is our everything.”  It’s evident that the most high was present during the recording of A Love Supreme and the spirit of Coltrane was at Jazz Standard when the Azar Lawrence Quartet performed selections from this work.  These men breathed passion into a work that is already filled with emotion.  They were awe-inspiring.  I fell deeper in love with this work, if it’s possible to do so.  They played the house down and it was one of the best tributes I have been privileged to witness with my own eyes.  The vibrations could be felt in every corner of the room.  I believe we all left feeling connected.  Thank you John Coltrane for creating a work that will last as long as human history exists.  And thank you to Jazz Standard and the Azar Lawrence Quartet for allowing us to rejoice in a work and an artist that used his abilities to uplift humankind.

 

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Love Letters Will End Broadway Run On December 14

We all know the saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Seems like that’s the case for Love Letters, the play will be ending its run earlier than its original end date of February 15.  In fact, the last performance is set for December 14.  Although it’s short notice, there’s still time to see one of the best plays this season.  Now I’m well aware that all things, good and bad, have their time, but if you ask me this is one good thing that has come to an end way too soon.

A national tour of the production will launch in fall 2015. Tour cities, dates and stars will be announced soon.

SAMO

Written by Afrika Brown, F.A.M.E NYC Editor and Founder

Tears etch scars down my cheeks

Fresh blood, new death each week

Black bodies and Blue justice gone viral

New day but its HIStory we rival

We scream no justice, no peace

We create footsteps in the streets

Covering the prints of elders before

But what really lies at the core

Is it my melanin?

The place I live in

The coiled roots of my dome

Or the fact that this land was never my home

We contribute to the prosperity of red, white and blue

But Uncle Sam don’t give a damn ‘bout folks with my hue

Occupy Wall Street, Hands Up –Don’t Shoot

And while we “die-in” stores, corporations still get loot

Weren’t we sick and tired with Fannie Lou Hamer

Technologies advance with frozen minds, it don’t get no stranger

Are we the problem or the solution?

The cure or the pollution

Maybe we are everything you see

Cause this land made for you and me

Is a whore born out of hypocrisy

A blind lady holding up scales

The bitch is deaf too and dead men tell no tales

Seventeen watching Rodney King

Twenty –two years, new video, same sting

Can you see the ring I’m trying to paint?

Full circle of blood smeared and stained

With the crimson of Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Trayvon

Amadou, Anthony Baez… do I have to go on?

No, I don’t need to go any farther

Cause the tombstones go past Eric Garner

Unarmed man blasted in a project stairwell

And still you don’t think Jim Crow ain’t alive and well

Dead black men just pictures on your TV

Not too different from black men swinging on trees

They called them strange fruit

KKK, zealous pigs, identical boot

Bearing down our larynx

Shouting NEXT GENERATION…NEXT

So I can’t trust the boys in blue

Or the boys in blue

And red bandannas who

Fit the criminal profile

But wait…we all fit the profile

Of being descendants of the three-fifths lifestyle

Cause when these laws were being made

My great-grandparents were slaves

For a country made for you and me

It’s been slow in spreading equality

And while the twentieth century is written about in books

The new millennium carries the shadow of a familiar look

And while CNN tries to discover who really is the foe

I say it’s just the ghost of SAMO

 

The Illusionists Bring Their Magic to The Great White Way

One can be inclined to say that magic happens every night on Broadway.  Each performance brings the audience into new worlds and is always different than the night before.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing a live performance, that is until you add the heighten sensation of watching someone try to wiggle themselves out of a straightjacket suspended high above the stage or shoot an apple off a woman’s head, all to the beat of some funky music and pyrotechnics shooting from the stage.   And if that’s your bag, then a night of captivating thrills and pulsating amusement are guaranteed when you step into the Marquis Theater for The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible.

Gone are men in penguin suits and top hats pulling rabbits out of a hat and drawing multi-hued scarves out of their pockets.  The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible has all the slickness and pomp of a Las Vegas show, the sounds of hot, pumping dance party and the satisfaction that makes the ticket well worth the price.  Most of the tricks performed have been around for decades; however The Illusionists give them a 21st century injection that gives them a fresh appeal.

The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible is an ensemble of seven magicians each a specialist in his field.  Adam Trent, known as The Futurist, combines dance, comedy and pizzazz to create a routine that is eye-catching and innovative.  If Liberace and Ethel Merman had a son, he would probably be Jeff Hobson, The Trickster.  He is the epitome of showmanship.  His tricks are only rivaled by his wit, which leaves the audience in stitches.  Following the legacy of Harry Houdini, Andrew Basso, The Escapologist, death-defying stunts dare to look the grim reaper in the eye and smile.  No one can resist the temptation of watching someone put their life on the line on a nightly basis.  Dan Sperry creates a cocktail of Goth, wry humor and trickery that is sure to creep you out your seat as The Anti-Conjuror.  You will squirm and be mesmerized at the same time.  Who doesn’t like a good man sawed in half trick?  The Inventor, Kevin James, revamps this old school classic with new school charm.  Silent but spectacular Aaron Crow, The Warrior, kicks magical ass.  Yu Ho-Jin is called The Manipulator and his moniker couldn’t be more appropriate.  If we were in a different century he might be going up before a council for witchcraft that is how convincing he is.  His style and approach to performing gives the impression of almost being supernatural, it’s like his tricks are an extension of himself.  It is beguiling and beautiful.

The Illusionists hail from U.S., Italy, Belgium and South Korea and have been featured on The Disney Channel and NBC’s America’s Got Talent and are the future of magic.  It’s a fun show that is great for a family night, an evening with friends or a date.   Witness The Illusionists while they are still on Broadway, I’m sure they will conjure a smile on your face as they did mine.

Photo courtesy of The Illusionistslive.com