Indiana Daily Student

Faculty members honor Coltrane at Jazz Fables

Tenor sax John Coltane started using heroin when he was playing with Miles Davis. Rumor has it, he wanted to be able to continue to practice all through the night. \nBut Davis dumped Coltrane from his quartet in 1957 after he became an addict. Coltrane went clean, teaming up with pianist Thelonius Monk for a brief stint before he launched one of the most influential solo careers in all of jazz.\nHad he not died in 1967, Coltrane would have turned 74 Saturday.\nHis life's work will be honored by music school faculty Thursday as part of the weekly Jazz Fables series. Featuring professors Tom Walsh on saxophone and David Miller on trumpet, the birthday tribute show will be held at 5:30 p.m. today at Bear's Place, 1316 E. Third St. \n"(Coltrane) had a remarkable ability to reinvent himself," Walsh said. "He went through at least three stylistic changes during his career. And it wasn't like he woke up one day and reinvented himself. He was constantly working, constantly recording albums -- it was a natural evolution."\nWalsh said Coltrane has had an influence on his work.\n"I've studied his music and assimilated parts of it," he said. "He had a long and influential career."\nThe faculty ensemble will perform works of Coltrane from the late 1950s, including "Blue Train," "Liberia" and "Village Blues." Most of the songs are culled from his "sheets of sound" period, which is how critics described his pioneering style of improvisation with advanced chord changes.\n"In that period, he was interested in what's called vertical improvisation," Miller said. "It opened up harmonic possibilities that made him so influential."\nMiller said the ensemble, which pays tribute to Coltrane every year, just wanted to shake things up with its set this year.\n"We've done this since 1989, when Jazz Fables kicked off," said Miller, a founding member of the jazz series. "We change it up every year, so the audience remains interested and we, as musicians, remain interested. (The set) has a limited focus, but it gives a good look at a defining point in a long career."\nMiller and Walsh will be accompanied by professor Pat Harbison on trumpet, professor Jack Helsley on bass, professor Matt Pollack on drums and visiting professor Luke Gillespie on piano.\nJazz Fables takes place from 5:30-8 p.m. every Thursday at Bear's Place.

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