John Coltrane was only 40 when he died. If he’d lived – a possibility not entirely unreasonable – he would have been 90 on Friday.
In his 40 years on earth, the great tenor and soprano saxophonist became one of the most influential musicians on earth. He remains all of that in death. Among the many immortal things he did was stand next to alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly in the sextet that may be the greatest small group in jazz history – Miles Davis’ Sextet with Coltrane, Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and either Philly Joe Jones or Jimmy Cobb.
So much did Coltrane and Adderly inspire each other, they made an amazing record together on Emarcy.
If you went looking for tenor and soprano saxophonists influenced by Coltrane in current America, you’d find them in every city. If you went looking, though, for alto saxophonists whom Cannonball would recognize today as his musical brethren, at the head of a very short line would be the great Vincent Herring.
Herring will be the featured soloist with the George Caldwell at one of the great annual jazz celebrations in Buffalo, the annual John Coltrane Birthday celebration conducted by the Pappy Martin Legacy Society. Its annual Coltrane birthday tribute will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Burchfield Penney Arts Center. Admission is $10, $5 for gallery members.
- Jeff Simon