John Coltrane on Peace on Earth

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Aug 11 12:52:00 MDT 2000

This is a forward of a post by Li'l Joe on Black-Left.



This posting, re "Peace on Earth", is in the Spirit of commoration, and
remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims of nuclear
bombings, the US' use of "weapons of mass distruction".  This bombing was a
crime against humanity ["total war"] deliberately targeting the civilian
populations of the Japanese cities of Hiroshema and Nagasaki.

It is appropriate to share with you the following liner notes, and interview of
Coltrane in Japan.  The liner notes and interview are quoted from the notes to
the CD: "John Coltrane Live In Japan".

John Coltrane, Turiya Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, and Rashied
Ali visited Japan in 1966, where they performed before audiences numbering in
the thousands. The Quintet performed, among other compositions, the gorgeous,
spiritual prayer: "Peace on Earth".

"The music in this album was recorded while John and I were
touring the beautiful country of Japan.  The impressions of
this great land are as vivid in my mind today as they were
seven years ago.  *****  I would like the Japanese people
to know that the warm receptions and offerings of flowers
and gifts, given to us while were there, will always be
cherished within our hearts forevermore.  *****  We had never
before seen such ancient, timeless beauty as we saw crafted
on your Mt. Fujiyama valley, and seaside, as well as the
profoundly beautiful work of art engraved on the faces of
your people.  *****  Your cities and streets were immaculate.
You also gave us the best accommodations everywhere we
traveled.  Thank you for taking us to see the Nagasaki and
Hiroshima world war memorials where John prayed for your
war dead."  (Turiya Alice Coltrane, 1973)


The following interview took place in John Coltrane's room
at the Tokyo Prince Hotel on July 7, 1966 after a full press
conference which is referred to here.  Because the
interviewer's English was not always clear, causing Coltrane
to sometimes misunderstand a question at first, the interview
has been edited for flow and readability.

Interviewer: Many jazzmen are said to influenced by classical
music.  What about you?

John Coltrane: I may be wrong on this, but the term 'classical
music,' in my opinion, means the music of a country played by
the composers and musicians of the country, more or less, as
opposed to the music that people dance to or sing along with,
the popular music.  What do you think about that?  Do you
agree?  There are different types of classical music all over
the world.  I don't know if I'm correct on this, but that's
the way I feel about it.  As far as types of music, if you
ask me what we are playing, I feel it is the music of the
individual contributor.  And if you want to name it anything,
you can name it classical music.

I:  Can you please make some comments about the playing of
Sonny Rollins?

JC:  Oh, he is a wonderful instrumentalist and musician.

I:  Ornette Coleman?

JC:  I said [at the press conference] that he was a great
leader.  This to me is a great thing to be.

I:  How about Roland Kirk?

JC:  He's another great instrumentalist.

I:  Charles Mingus?

JC:  I admire his works.

I:  How about Miles Davis?

JC:  He is a teacher.  There are things I learned from Miles.
It's hard to put them into words.  There are things a musician
needs to know, then you can hear them.  I learned quite a bit.

I:  There are people who think your music is too difficult to
understand, too avant-garde.  What would you say to people who
claim that they cannot understand your music?

JC:  You'd like an answer to this?  Well, I don't feel there
is an answer to this.  It is either saying a person, who does
not understand, will understand in time from repeated
listenings or some things he will never understand.  You know,
that's the way it is.  There are many things in life that we
don't understand.  And we just go on with life anyway.

I:  How do you spend your leisure time away from music?

JC:  Well, I haven't had much leisure time in the last fifteen
years.  And when I get any, I am usually so tired that I just
go somewhere to lay around for two weeks, if I can get two
weeks.  And most of the time, my mind is still on music anyway.

I:  Do you have some comment about the Vietnamese war?

JC:  Well, I dislike war.  Period.  Therefore, as far as I am
concerned, it should stop, it should have already been stopped.
Now, as far as the issues behind it.  I don't understand them
well enough to tell you just how this could be brought about.
I only know it should stop.

I:  Do Black people [in general] have any special opinion
about this war?

JC:  Well, if so, I don't know of any consensus that's been
made of it.

I:  What about religion?

JC:  I don't talk much, but you've got me talking!  For hours
I've been talking, and I'm not a talker.  I thought about
this question.  I answered it as best I could [at the press
conference].  I felt I didn't tell [the reporter] what I
really wanted to say.  He thought I was Christian.  And I
am by birth: my parents were and my early teachings were
Christian.  But as I look upon the world, I feel all men
know the truth.  If a man was a Christian, he could know the
truth and he could not.  The truth itself does not have any
name on it.  And each man has to find it for himself, I think.

I:  What is your goal for the future?

JC:  I believe that man is here to grow into the fullest,
the best that he can be.  At least, this is what I want to
do.  As I am growing to become whatever I become, this will
just come out on the horn.  Whatever that's going to be, it
will be.  I am not so much interested in trying to say what
it's going to be.  I don't know.  I just know that good can
only bring good.

I:  Please recommend some of your recorded works that you
like best.

JC:  The music I recorded that I like best (he chuckles),
I don't know, I'll tell you this though: some of the best
wasn't recorded.  Recordings always make you tighten up
just a little bit.

I:  What kinds of things would you like to see and experience
in Japan?

JC:  Well, if we have time, I would like to see some of the
temples.  I'd like to hear some Japanese classical music.
What is this instrument. . . the koto; I'd like to hear some
of that.  Maybe go to some rural areas to see some
traditional music and ways of living.

I:  Are you a vegetarian?

JC:  [Mostly.]  I find it causes me to be a much calmer
person.  I've found that I have less trouble being in
command of my passions, emotions, and so forth.  Ad my body
has less work to do in grinding up this food, so therefore I
have more energy.

I:  That wouldn't help me too much because I am too skinny.

JC:  You could use some milkshakes (laughs).  If I could get
like you. . . I've got too much weight on me now.

I:  Do you have a few comments for Japanese fans?

JC:  Well, hello and thank you.  We are glad to be here and
hope to see and play for you.

(Translated by Kazunori Sugiyama; Edited by Michael Cuscuma)


Li'l Joe

More information about the Marxism mailing list