Grande Coltrane Memorial


Fifth Estate # 38, September 15-30, 1967

The Grande Ballroom, through the goodness of Uncle Russ, will again be the scene of a huge benefit dance/concert for Trans-Love Energies Unlimited, the Detroit hippie / artists coop.

Titled “Homage to John Coltrane,” the concert will celebrate the birth of the late musical giant (Trane was born September 23rd, 1926, on the first day of Libra) and commemorate his passage from this planet July 17th, 1967. Music will be donated by the MC-5, the Up, and the Charles Moore Ensemble, Detroit’s first and most forward avant-garde jazz unit. Moore’s original group, the Detroit Contemporary 5, performed in a “Homage to John Coltrane” concert at the old Artists’ Workshop on Forest Avenue in November of 1964.

John Sinclair and Jim Semark, poets who also participated in the 1964 event, will read poems for Coltrane from their published work at the benefit, and a magic light show will be projected by the new Pisces Eyes Light Co. The event will run from 7 to 11 Sunday, September 24; admission is $2.50. Proceeds from the event will go toward eliminating some of the many Trans-Love bills and hopefully toward reestablishing the Trans-Love newspaper, The Sun as a regular tabloid. The Sun has recently re- emerged as a mimeographed paper.

The last Grande benefit netted over $400 for the organization, and hopes are high that this event will bring in even more.

For those who may not know, John Coltrane, tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer, and leader, was for ten years (1957-1967) THE major force in the jazz avant-garde. His early work with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk established Trane in the 50’s as a genius and innovator of huge proportions, and his work both on records and in live performances with his own group starting in 1960 made him a living legend and great spiritual force in the lives of thousands of music freaks.

Coltrane’s most exciting contribution was in his discovery of raw energy as a primary musical term, and he turned hundreds of young musicians on to the pure spirit-force that lives n each one of them. With recordings like Africa “Brass,” “Ole,” “Chasing the Trane,” and “Impressions” (1961), “Out of this World” (1962), “Coltrane Live at Birdland” (1963), “A Love Supreme” and “Nature Boy” (1964), “Ascension” (1965), and “Meditations” (1966) he opened up possibilities for total expression that turned on a whole generation of seekers.

The performers at the Trans-Love benefit have all been deeply involved with the music of John Coltrane: the MC-5 and the UP have translated Coltrane’s huge energy force into the electronic rock medium and are putting it to work in a popular context.

Charles Moore has been a close student of Coltrane’s music for as many years as he’s been playing his cornet, and has evolved a form of music which depends on the direct transference of emotional energy and honesty as Trane’s music did.

Poets John Sinclair and Jim Semark have both been deeply influenced by John Coltrane’s music; Semark’s “John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad for All,” performed with a jazz rhythm section, gives a precise verbal sense of what that music is about as a rhythmic, tonal and social occasion. Sinclair has written of Coltrane’s music for Jazz, Sounds and Fury, Change, and other music magazines, and has written many poems that work with the music as direct inspiration in both a physical and spiritual sense; his most recent book, Meditations, is subtitled “A Suite for John Coltrane” and was inspired by Trane’s recording of the same name.

The benefit will be the first formal memorial concert for John Coltrane, and will also mark the beginning of a series of avant-garde jazz bookings at the Grande Ballroom, Moore’s group being the first jazz group to work the ballroom.