LIVE: Coltrane’s gift to humanity ‘A Love Supreme’

Image: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme album coverAwesome gig the other day (21 Oct) at The Ivy Arts Centre at University of Surrey in Guildford playing Coltrane’s great gift to humanity, A Love Supreme with my long time spar and ALS exemplar, Denys Baptiste (tenor sax), and the stunning Benet McLean (piano) and Eddie Hick. Such a privilege to play this deeply spiritual music with such fine musicians. 

Thankfully, the lovely people at the BBC recorded the gig so, if you missed the live show, you can still catch the full set here on the BBC iPlayer.

BBC Radio 3 Jazz Now - Gary Crosby Quartet

 

Crescent…Our Coltrane Cycle continues tonight at Foyles

Gary Crosby 4tet play Coltrane's CrescentVery happy to be playing with Denys (Baptiste), Rod (Youngs) and Joe (Armon-Jones) tonight (Fri 25 Sep, 6.30pm-7.30pm) in the Auditorium at Foyles. We’re performing one of my favourite albums, the meditative Coltrane classic: Crescent – precursor to A Love Supreme – and you can be sure we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got. It’s just a one-hour set so come early to get a seat and catch the whole thing from start to finish. You won’t be disappointed (especially as it’s just a fiver, yes, £5 admission!).

See you there, 6.30pm sharp!

Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT

Three great gigs I’m looking forward to this summer

Image: Summer Of Love Party, Hawkhurst, Kent

Three great gigs I’m looking forward to over the next few weeks, playing with some of my favourite friends.

Here’s the first one, with my band, Groundation at the Summer Of Love Party on Friday 24 July when we’ll be bringing our afro jazz vibes to a bit of a hang in Hawkhurst in Kent! Joining me are the incomparable Nathaniel Facey, Shirley Tetteh and Moses Boyd. (Thanks to Steve @ FunkyFeet Photography for the great pic!)

Image: Gary Crosby's Groundation. Photo by Steve @ FunkyFeet Photography

 

 

Then on Saturday 25 July, I have the great pleasure of performing Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with Denys Baptiste, Rod Youngs and Joe Armon-Jones at the Hull Truck Theatre (part of the 2015 Hull Jazz Festival). I know…we only played this suite a couple of weeks ago at Southbank Centre, and we’re still buzzing from the great vibe there, but it’s an extraordinary piece of music that, without fail, gets all of us excited about playing it again.

Image: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme album cover

Then I have a couple of weeks to get my party head in gear for Jazz Jamaica‘s favourite club gig, celebrating Jamaican Independence at The Hideaway in Streatham, South London on Saturday 8 August. Always a pleasure, we have the lovely Ms Myrna Hague joining us again. Plus…we’re planning to introduce a new young vocal talent…But you have to come along if you want to find out who!

The Hideaway Flyer - Jazz Jamaica 08 Aug

Hope to see lots of you over the next few weeks!

Peace and love.

 

Revisiting John Coltrane’s A LOVE SUPREME – 10 July

I’m looking forward this week to working in Quartet format again on Friday 10 July at 5.30pm when we revisit John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. I’ll be joined by my long-time friends and sparring partners, Denys Baptiste and Rod Youngs, and rising star Joe Armon-Jones.  We’re doing it in a free space, The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, London so lots of you can come see it! It’s an incredible piece of music that we never tire of playing. Here’s a link to my blog piece My Supreme Love Affair that I posted in January where I talk about my relationship with this great work.

Meantime, here are the details for the gig. When you’ve it, click on the flyer to be taken to the Southbank Centre website for more info. Hope to see you there!

IMAGE: Gary Crosby 4tet feat. Denys Baptiste

My Supreme Love Affair

Image

A Love Supreme-Southampton2015Happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s going to be a good one, full of great music, inspiration and creativity.

The year is definitely getting off to a great start for me as 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the only live performance by John Coltrane of his everlasting classic, A Love Supreme. I feel honoured to have been invited to perform this monumental piece on Friday 16 January at Turner Sims in Southampton with my quartet, which features my long-time friend and musical sparring partner, Denys Baptiste. Completing the rhythm section are the great Rod Youngs on drums and rising star pianist, Joe Armon-Jones, a graduate of my Tomorrow’s Warriors Young Artist Development Programme.

I first discovered Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in about 1977, and it has to be said that this classic jazz album had an instant and profound effect on me. I recall it was my sister who bought the album for me. I had listened to other Coltrane music, but this was one of the early Impulse recordings and it clearly was something special. Indeed, it was a masterpiece and spoke to me in so many ways that other jazz works so far had not (perhaps with the exception of Mingus’ Black Saint and The Sinner Lady). It was apparent to me that this was a very personal piece of work – a spiritual albeit very public declaration by Coltrane that his life as a musician was now a seamless (at one) dedication with his faith in God. Here was a man who was rising out of his personal problems, including a long struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Looking back, I had started listening to A Love Supreme before I had even started taking ‘proper’ bass lessons, as I had been trumpeter up until that point. When I think about it, at the time, my reaction was not so much about the high level of importance in jazz history that the work had assumed over the past decade, but it was much more about how this was a deeply emotional, somewhat ethereal response that took hold of me. This may sound somewhat prosaic or even strange given the easy access to lessons about world cultures and diverse societies that we have through global media and the web. It was rare for me to get opportunities to learn about, let alone directly experience or get close to hearing a black male talking or expressing his artistic and spiritual devotion to another being, albeit it the Creator or God. In fact, most of the music I was listening to at the time was focused around or directly fused with my political beliefs: Black power, the growth of the left wing, anti-apartheid movement, Mozambique, independence in Africa and the Caribbean. Several of my contemporaries, who also hailed from the Rasta movement, were realising that we were starving intellectually. We were asking ourselves: how do we expand our philosophy, talk through and deepen our thoughts on the ideas that were influencing us. And so it was not only about geopolitics or religion, it became about creative expression. It became about jazz. Jazz became a strong metaphor for sharing stories, communing with fellow thinkers, a symbol of independence, freedom and self-expressionism.

Of course at home, growing up, jazz music was all around us so we grew up listening to the greats (my uncle is the great jazz guitarist, Ernest Ranglin). However, I believe the guys who were around me at the time were looking for ways to engage in deeper conversations about the black intellectual experience. A Love Supreme acted like the soundtrack to the books we were reading at the time. But it was not only Coltrane. It was also through our extended connections and seeing the huge impact that musicians were having across the divides: Fela, Marley, US producers like Norman Whitfield, Curtis Mayfield. If my memory serves me well, Supreme was the first or second jazz album that I had listened to which had been constructed as a conceptual work, composed that way from the start to the finish.

If I break it down, another reason it appealed to me was its purity – an acoustic work written at a time when electronic jazz was slowly beginning to dominate the scene: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock. I was into the Rasta movement, living a natural life so the purity of the acoustic arrangements and work held sway with me on a number of different levels.

What does A Love Supreme mean now? It’s been a part of my entire adult life, all the way through its many phases – whenever I am down, even feeling low, or looking for creativity, it’s one of those albums that lifts me. I carry it everywhere with me. It’s on my iPhone, my iPod. It’s everywhere around me.

It’s about ten years ago that I started playing A Love Supreme with Denys Baptiste (and I’ve only ever performed this work with Denys on saxophone). This is a rare piece and, in fact, we have only played it about 7-8 times. However the way we play Coltrane is ingrained in our consciousness. We try to keep the spontaneity, and are mindful about how and when we rehearse. In fact we only ‘rehearsed’ the piece before we had to perform it for the very first time all those years ago, and every other time since then, we command up our energies, get into the mindset and play the set in the sound check before the live performance. In doing so we try to keep a collective purity, a kind of naturalness if you like. However A Love Supreme is one of the world’s sacred canons, and we certainly will not abuse the composer’s intention. As musicians, we want to learn from the piece each time we undertake the work. It’s our absolute duty to play it as Coltrane intended, for example in the case of the bass solo in the movement, Resolution, it really does not need anything from me (or any musician) to be heard as a great piece of art. The work is awesome and awe-inspiring.

It’s really important that the audience engages with Supreme from a pure live perspective. Forty minutes of an intensified and meditative experience. It surely takes you over and elevates the mind and spirit. There’s no choice – you have to take the piece seriously, audiences and musicians alike, but never allow the weight of its meaning and significance to scare you because the rewards are so great. Before we play, I like to ask tacit permission from the audience to give us 45 minutes of their unadulterated time and attention also to allow my Quartet to transport them to another zone, through an immensely hypnotic score – to recapture that spirit that Coltrane shared all those years ago. For me A Love Supreme is pure inspiration. Pure genius. Whether you are religious or not, it’s revealing to be allowed to share in the visceral statement that Coltrane is making – his service to God. The music/concept came to him by some sort of osmosis, apparently. Coltrane congregated all the elements in one day and, with that, he left us a great piece of work that in a thousand years we will be still be listening to, one that unites humans at the spiritual level – a work that unites musicians across genres. Whether you are religious or not, people all over the work respect what Coltrane did. Not everybody ‘gets’ jazz, but back then in 1965, hippies, folk and progressive rock musicians, accepted this as one the great universal musical statements for the ages.

A Love Supreme is “for music fans, not just jazz fans. For people across musical boundaries and cultures — for Carlos Santana, Bono, Joni Mitchell, Steve Reich, Bootsy Collins, Gil Scott-Heron — hearing A Love Supreme was a revelation” Arun Rath, npr.

Come and hear us play A Love Supreme live. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Peace and love.

Friday 16 January 2015 Turner Sims, Salisbury Road, Southampton SO17 1BJ Doors 8pm Pre-booking strongly advised Tickets £18, Concessions £17, Friends £16.20, students £9 can be booked online, or from the Box Office on 023 8059 5151

Celebrating 100 Goode Years: Happy Birthday Coleridge

Image

Tomorrow’s Warriors have posted a slideshow of some of the wonderful images we used for my concert last week in the Purcell Room at Southbank Centre to celebrate (a week early) the 100th birthday of one of my mentors, Coleridge Goode. We’ll be posting up some footage from the show shortly.

Send Coleridge a birthday message via the Tomorrow’s Warriors blog or, alternatively:

  • Post on Twitter with hashtags #OnceInACentury #ColeridgeGoode100
  • Like and post a comment on Facebook page Coleridge Goode 100

– we’ll be sharing your messages with Coleridge at his party on the 29th!

Last week Tomorrow’s Warriors artistic director, Gary CrosbyOBE was able to publicly share his admiration for his mentor at a special interactive concert during the London Jazz Festival.  Today, we are so very proud to celebrate the 100th birthday of the double bass jazz giant and unmatched legend, MrColeridge Goode: ‘Lord Master of the Lower Frequencies’.

Happy Birthday Coleridge! may you celebrate many more glorious years with your family and friends, and keep on inspiring future generations of jazz musicians and lovers of jazz music.

Please join us in celebrating Coleridge’s incredible talent, his influence on the jazz scene and beyond and, most of all, the pure generosity and humanity he shows to those who come after him. Send your appreciation by tweeting #OnceInACentury #ColeridgeGoode100 or commenting on Facebook.

Coleridge Goode, born 29 November 1914, Jamaica, West Indies.

Thanks to Coleridge Goode’s family for photographs and…

View original post 17 more words

Fri 21 Nov: Coleridge Goode at 100 – Let’s Celebrate! #EFGLJF

Gary Crosby-Coleridge Goode 100 YearsI’m excited to tell you about a special interactive concert I’m presenting on Friday 21 November at the Purcell Room as part of this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival – Coleridge Goode: A Celebration.

It’s a tribute to my dear friend and mentor, the legendary Jamaican double bassist, Coleridge Goode, who celebrates his 100th birthday at the end of this month (29th). We’ll be marking this important event with a concert combining live music, conversations, literary readings, photography and film, and it would be wonderful to see as many of you as possible joining us for this party! So please share this info with family and friends!

Joining me on stage will be Byron Wallen (trumpet), Aleksandra Topczewska (alto sax), Omar Puente (violin), Alex Ho (piano), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), and Moses Boyd (drums), and a panel of guest speakers including the beautiful vocalist Elaine Delmar, broadcaster and jazz historian Alyn Shipton, saxophonist Denys Baptiste, biographer Roger Cotterrell, and Goode family friend Colleen McIntyre. Our speakers will offer insight into Coleridge’s career and, sharing personal memories, shine a light on a life in jazz that began a few months after the outbreak of the First World War.Chairing the panel, and weaving it all together will be journalist and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre.

Coleridge is one of the most important musicians ever in the history of jazz and jazz bass. He worked with so many musical luminaries from Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, to George Shearing and Joe HarriottShake Keane to Leslie ‘Jiver’ Hutchinson to John Mayer. He even played for the late British Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson at 10 Downing Street. He also featured in the Ray Ellington Quartet famed as the house band on BBC Radio’s irreverent comedy programme, The Goon Show that featured Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe.

In addition to his contribution as a player, Coleridge is credited as the person who came up with the idea of the double bass pickup to amplify the sound of the instrument, marking a major development in the evolution of bass performance.

Gary Crosby and Coleridge Goode 2014I first met Coleridge in Earl’s Court around 1980 when I was working in a West African restaurant across the road from a club where he used to play. For me as a bass player, I was impressed not only by his technical ability, but also his immense musicality – watching him sing and bow his bass simultaneously was like having a live history lesson that harked back to the great Slam Stewart, Major ‘Mule’ Holley and Jimmy Blanton.

Coleridge was incredibly generous towards us younger musicians, always happy to share information on the history of jazz in Britain. I was especially excited about his work with the great Joe Harriott – Coleridge is the last surviving member of Harriott’s innovative Quintet  – and my conversations with him inspired me to conceive a concert in tribute to the saxophonist as part of the London Jazz Festival some years ago.

Coleridge is a refined, cultured gentleman who loves all kinds of music, particularly classical music. He has always been accessible to me, and I feel enormously privileged to have been invited to spend time with him and his beautiful wife, Gertrude at their house in Notting Hill. It is here that, over the years I’ve been introduced to a number of important Caribbean jazz elders such as Herman Wilson, Ken Gordon, Frank Holder, and Iggy Quail. He also introduced me to other jazz greats such Laurie Morgan, Michael Garrick, and Tommy Jones.

Over the past 30-odd years, it has been my absolute honour and pleasure to become friends with, and be mentored by this wonderful human being. But his generosity hasn’t stopped there. He has allowed and encouraged me to bring many of my young Tomorrow’s Warriors protégés to meet and spend time with him at his house, where he has continued to pass on valuable information on jazz history and to appreciate our place within it.

I will always remember the time when, as a birthday present to Coleridge, I learned his only known recorded composition, Dream For Bass. Since bowing and singing at the same time was not my thing, I practised the piece pizzicato then went over to Coleridge’s house where he was having a small get-together with family and friends. I played Dream For Bass in front of the guests who included my dear friends and master bassists, Peter Ind and Dave Green (inspiring me to hatch my Lords Of The Lower Frequencies project). Coleridge looked on, smiling and nodding his support. Later on, during a quiet moment, he pulled me to one side to thank me and tell me how impressed and happy he was that I had even attempted to play his music. However, just as I was about to acknowledge the great man’s praise, he added ‘…but I wrote that music for the bow’! In an instant I was humbled and reminded that I still had much to learn from this incredible musician!

Do come along to Coleridge Goode: A Celebration on Friday 21 November and join me in celebrating the 100th birthday of the consummate Lord Of The Lower Frequencies. Sadly, he is now too frail to attend in person, but we hope to record the concert for Coleridge so he can enjoy listening back to it when we celebrate with him on his birthday. And guess what? Though age may have forced him to lay down his bass, you can still hear him scatting along to music whenever it gets to the bass solo!

100 birthdayHAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY Mr Goode!


News features:

Special Celebrations at the London Jazz Festival news feature in the Financial Times

Coleridge Goode’s 100th birthday to be celebrated at the London Jazz Festival preview by Marlbank

Biography:

Bass Lines: A Life In Jazz by Roger Cotterrell/Coleridge Goode Vinyl

Recordings:

Jazz For Moderns by Joe Harriott Quintet (Gearbox Records)

Prelude To Heart Is A Lotus by Michael Garrick Sextet with Don Rendell & Ian Carr (Gearbox Records)