In the first clip, I talk about the role that the civil rights movement played in the music of Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and other spiritual-jazz artists in the '50s who fused artistic expression with growing frustration over the slow pace of racial equality. The second clip looks at the external forces behind the rise of jazz-rock fusion in the late '60s.
"John was very introspective. I remember in the late '50s, when critics began to call his arpeggios 'sheets of sound,' I knew where he was coming from. When I'd visit John uptown, he had a harp in his apartment that his wife Naima had bought for him. [Pictured above: John Coltrane]
"By pressing the pedals, you could create a glissando that was like sheets of sound. John told me he was interpreting that harp sound on the saxophone and was fascinated by how different those runs sounded on the saxophone compared with the harp. He integrated the harp's sound into his music.
"The harp was a spiritual instrument in a religious sense. This music we expressed was part curiosity but also a reaction to what was happening. You couldn't avoid the civil rights movement back then."
A big JazzWax thanks to Fred Seibert, Mike Hamer and Zoë Barton.
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