Pharoah Sanders Quartet headlines "40 Years of Celebrating 'Trane"

Celebrating its 40th year, the John Coltrane Memorial Concert (JCMC) is the world's oldest annual performance tribute to the musical and spiritual legacy of the great master. JCMC believes, as did 'Trane, that music can be a force to make the world a better place:

"I want to be a force for real good. In other words, I know there are bad forces out here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force that is truly for good." (John Coltrane, 1966)

For this banner year, which happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary year of Coltrane's death (d. July 17, 1967), JCMC has scheduled a week-long series of events, combined with a month-long photo exhibit, providing insight into the many ways to really hear and view 'Trane, who harbored such a strong belief that the power of his music could affect positive social change. It is a week to jump on board the 'Trane phenomenon.

The 40th anniversary week commences with a return one time only showing of the highly acclaimed 2016 documentary film "Chasing Trane", followed by a panel discussion moderated by Emmett G. Price III with Tia Fuller, Eric Jackson and JCMC co-founder Syd Smart.

The week will then continue with several free and insightful 'Trane-oriented presentations, Chasing More 'Trane and Insider Reflections on the JCMC Legacy, along with a retrospective photo exhibit entitled 40 Years of Celebrating 'Trane, curated by Edmund Barry Gaither.

The momentum of the week's proceedings will culminate in two consecutive evening concerts. The first, on Friday October 6th, features the time-honored JCMC Ensemble, this year expanding to 20-pieces under the direction of Carl Atkins. Joining Atkins on reeds and woodwinds will be Leonard Brown, Stan Strickland, Bill Thompson and Robert Tynes. Trumpets will feature Robert Gallegos, Charles Lewis, Doug Olsen and Mike Peipman. Jeff Galindo, Bill Lowe, Rick Stepton and Gary Valente will be featured on trombone and tuba, along with Yoron Israel and Ron Savage on drums. Rollins Ross, George W. Russell, Jr., Frank Wilkins are the keyboardists, and John Lockwood and Ron Mahdi are the bassists. "Con Salsa!"'s José Massó serves as host for the evening.

On Saturday October 7th, JCMC presents the great master saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and his quartet, featuring Sanders with William Henderson on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums.

Pharoah Sanders is a NEA Jazz Master, the USA's highest award for the genre. He is a legendary musician who has shown a remarkable facility performing in a variety of styles — from free to mainstream. Displaying what has been called "hard-edged lyricism, " Sanders' possesses one of the most distinctive sounds on the tenor saxophone, harmonically rich with heavy overtones. Ornette Coleman once described him as "probably the best tenor player in the world." Sanders performed in 2003 in JCMC's 26th annual concert entitled "The Sacred Music of John Coltrane." Eric Jackson, hailed as the "dean of Boston jazz radio, " serves as host for this year's final event of the 40th anniversary week.

John Coltrane Memorial Concert listing details for the 40th anniversary week (updates available at

Sun. Oct .1, 4 pm
"Chasing Trane" : the 2016 documentary film on John Coltrane, directed by John Scheinfeld, narrated by Denzel Washington.
Followed by a panel discussion with Tia Fuller, Eric Jackson, Emmett G. Price III, and JCMC co-founder Syd Smart.
Presented in collaboration with Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline, MA
Tickets: $13, $10 for Coolidge members.
Visit to order tickets; log onto or call 617-671-0789 for updates.

Mon. Oct. 2, 7-9 pm
Chasing More 'Trane
JCMC co-founder Leonard Brown hosts an informational and educational presentation on audio and video documentaries on John Coltrane.
Presented in collaboration with the City of Boston.
Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building (6th floor), 2300 Washington St, Dudley Sq., Roxbury, MA
FREE, visit or call 617-671-0789 for updates.

Tues. Oct. 3, 7-9 pm
Insider Reflections on the JCMC Legacy
JCMC Ensemble musicians past and present share their experiences and reflections.
Presented in collaboration with Paige Academy, 26-28 Highland Ave, Roxbury, MA
FREE, visit or call 617-671-0789 for updates.

Fri. Oct. 6, 7:30 pm
John Coltrane Memorial Concert Ensemble: 40 Years of Celebrating 'Trane
20-piece ensemble directed by Carl Atkins. Hosted by José Massó.
Presented in collaboration with Northeastern University.
Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
Tickets for reserved seating: $20-$35 (plus $3/tix service charge).
Package deal available to attend both Oct. 6 & 7 concerts.
For tickets, visit or call 617-671-0789.

Sat. Oct . 7, 7:30 pm
Pharoah Sanders Quartet: 40 Years of Celebrating 'Trane
Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophone; William Henderson, piano; Nat Reeves, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums.
Hosted by Eric Jackson.
Presented in collaboration with Northeastern University.
Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
Tickets for reserved seating: $30-$50 (plus $3/tix service charge).
Package deal available to attend both Oct. 6 & 7 concerts.
For tickets, visit or call 617-671-0789.

Also running September 7th through October 7th, in conjunction with JCMC's 40th anniversary week:
"40 Years of Celebrating 'Trane" : a photographic exhibit documenting the annual JCMC concert.
Featuring selected works by Craig Bailey, Bruce Hamilton, Hakim Raquib and Erin X. Smithers.
Curated by Edmund Barry Gaither.
Artists' reception on Thurs. Sept. 28, 5-6:30 pm.
Presented in collaboration with Haley House Bakery Café, 12 Dade Street, Dudley Sq., Roxbury, MA
Haley House Bakery Café hours can be found at; visit or call 617-671-0789 for updates.

Brief background on headliner Pharoah Sanders and his direct Coltrane connection:

Born in Little Rock, AR in 1940, Pharoah Sanders arrived in NYC in 1961, where he played with a number of free jazz luminaries, including Sun Ra, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins and then led his own band, before meeting John Coltrane in 1964 when Trane was in the audience at a Sanders engagement at The Village Gate. Coltrane subsequently invited Sanders to join his ensemble with Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, and Rashied Ali. That group became one of the most revolutionary and controversial in the history of jazz. with physical strength also becoming a necessary requirement to execute the teeming, irregularly structured, organic mixture of sounds. Coltrane recognized that Sanders had that additional necessary trait in abundance.

Sanders emerged from his Coltrane years with a distinctive sound, that embodies the spiritual foundation of avant-garde jazz. He has shaped his own sonic world to encompass the primal wails and fierce energy of late Coltrane as well as the stomping R&B of his Little Rock youth, combined with Asian modes and Moroccan grooves, while also balancing his explosive improvisations with gentle ballads of sublime simplicity.

"[Pharoah Sanders] ... a musician who represents more than the notes he plays; he stands for the late '60s, but also for a generous and open way of expressing and sharing music. You hear it in his broad sound and his raspy long-tones and chaotic spirals of improvising between chords: seriousness, awareness." (Ben Ratliff, New York Times)

Brief historical background of JCMC:

John Coltrane Memorial Concert originated in 1977 at the Friends of Great Black Music Loft near Boston's Chinatown area. It was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Coltrane's death (7/17/67). Over the past 40 years, JCMC has earned its reputation as being Boston's annual "rite of fall, " by keeping true to Coltrane's desire to be “a force for good” and use his musical gifts to make the world a better place for all people.

JCMC has maintained its commitment to Coltrane’s musical and spiritual legacy in the following ways:

-- Consistently presenting “all star ensembles" composed of the leading musicians in the Boston and New England area;
-- Featuring numerous world premiere arrangements;
-- Guest appearances by great world renowned musicians including Ahmad Alaadeen, Bill Barron, Gary Bartz, Alvin Batiste, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ravi Coltrane, Alan Dawson, Frank Foster, Guru, Donald Harrison, Yusef Lateef, Cecil McBee, Danilo Perez, Shirley Scott, Cecilia Smith, McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders;
-- Providing free musical exposure and education to elementary and secondary public school students through the John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program.

Since its inception, JCMC has reached over 35, 000 audience members, many of who return every year. It is common knowledge that the JCMC audience is one of the most diverse of any of the major cultural performance events in the New England area and the John Coltrane Memorial Concert has grown to be one of the hallmark musical events in the Greater Boston area.

The 40th John Coltrane Memorial Concert Anniversary Week is produced by Friends of John Coltrane Memorial Concert, Inc.

John Coltrane Memorial Concert Ensemble
and the
Pharoah Sanders Quartet

October 1-7, 2017

“Imagine the sound and force of a rocket engine
blasting off at Kennedy Space Center:
raw, sheer, overwhelming.
That’s about what it felt like to hear
the tamed yet towering eruptions coming from
Pharoah Sanders’ tenor saxophone …
He exuded cosmic power,
but also a zen-like sensitivity and forbearance.”
(Jackson Sinnenberg, POTUS Channel on SiriusXM,
Concert review, 2015)

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