I was fortunate enough to see and hear some of the biggest names in jazz in my hometown, Washington, DC, when I was still very young. The Howard Theatre (somewhat like the Apollo, in Harlem), booked several artists in a stage show, that today would have to be accommodated in a festival setting. This was when bands were constantly touring the “chitlin circuit”, and doing exhausting one-nighters in city after city. For approximately $3.00, I could see a show presenting the Quincy Jones Orchestra, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan and Herbie Mann, for instance, which would include an interlude between acts with legendary comedians such as Pigmeat Markham, Slappy White, and Moms Mabley. Plus, a movie! After which, you could “buck” the show and see the same acts and the movie all over again. My ability to go to these shows began when I was approximately 12 years old, when my mother allowed me to go across town to the theatre with friends. It was fantastic and a fabulous way to spend a Saturday or Sunday.

When I was about 15 years old I was fortunate enough to see John Coltrane, up close and personal in a very small club called, “Abart’s”. My high school boyfriend, who was somewhat a prodigy, was a drummer, who used to sneak out at night to sit in with various musicians. He had met some members of Trane’s rhythm section, and was hanging out with them when they were performing in DC. My boyfriend told me I simply had to see Trane, because there was nothing like him. This was the period when he went off on his own, after leaving the Miles Davis Quintet. I went to Abart’s on a Sunday afternoon, and there was the now legendary quartet, consisting of Trane, Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. (I did not get carded; in fact, I went into various clubs in DC to hear music and was never carded even though I was nowhere near 21 years old. I also was able to order beer without question. This absolutely could not happen, today.)

Abart’s was a very small room, and so, the sound was “BIG”. Not only that, the sound was phenomenal. I could not believe what I was hearing. The stuff Trane was playing was unheard of and so powerful, I had to resist an overwhelming urge to simply jump up on my table and scream ecstatically. This is no exaggeration. I became a solid fan from that moment on, and was fortunate enough to see Trane in various venues including the Village Gate, in New York (where I also was not carded, although I was only 17 years old at the time). I loved Trane’s music through every phase. Some did not like his more abstract and spiritually directed music, but I found it absolutely transcendent. Trane was an incomparable, phenomenal, and insatiable innovator and jazzmusic was never the same after he came on the scene.

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