Tag Archives: John Coltrane

Ironworks on Now Is the Time


Joseph Bertolozzi making music in Paris (Franc Palaia, c2013)

It’s heavy metal on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 14th at 9 pm on WRTI.org and WRTI-HD2. Techno DJ Steve Bowman starts us off with Pinches of piano and electronica. That’s followed by David Dzubay’s Brass Quintet No. 1 from way, way back in 1988. The Prism Saxophone Quartet becomes a sextet for Dear Lord, a Coltrane arrangement by Dave Liebman (joining in on soprano).

If you want to look for something blessedly difficult to categorize, look no further than Paul Epstein and his serial/post-minimal/relentlessly attractive piano piece, 72:7/11/13, as rigidly constructed and as seemingly spontaneous a bit of music that you are likely to find. Bora Yoon sings, plays, and delights in Weights & Balances, and if you think a brass quintet was metallic, how about Frank Lynn Payne’s Quartet of Tubas?

Joseph Bertolozzi takes mallets of all sizes, including a hunk of tree trunk, to Paris, whacks the Eiffel Tower everywhere he can (he had permission, we think), records thousands of sounds, then goes back to the studio and makes music. Ironworks is one of the arresting pieces from his recent CD, Tower Music.

Steve Bowman: Pinches
David Dzubay: Brass Quintet No. 1
John Coltrane, arr. Dave Liebman: Dear Lord
Paul A. Epstein: 72: 7/11/13
Bora Yoon: Weights & Balances
Frank Lynn Payne: Quartet for Tubas
Joseph Bertolozzi: Ironworks

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman, and a Song for the Ages

[First published in WRTI’s Arts Desk 5 Oct 2015]

coltranehartmanTwo Englishmen, Guy Wood and Robert Mellin, slipped it into the Great American Songbook just before it closed, just as rock rolled over sophistication. It begins from below, a slowly twisting Roman candle of a tune, and explodes in the top range of the singer, as the eyes of onlookers reflect the glory of what songs once were.

Sinatra recorded “My One and Only Love” right away, in 1953, but ten years later John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman made it a landmark of an age.

Coltrane’s tenor saxophone sounds as if it’s made of something not of this world, and yet it is uncannily apt. Every note is a discovery, every phrase an experiment that comes out exactly right.

Johnny Hartman sings the way every man wishes to sing—an everyman standing up in a room suddenly silent—sounding like a man, but a man who breaks his heart open, and yours. And just when he sounds like anybody, that voice turns into one in ten million.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman spread their mystic charms, especially in the high ranges of their low instruments. In “My One and Only Love” they made a song for the ages. Remember what songs once were.



It’s one piano, two pianos, jazz, and rags on Now is the Time, Sunday, September 2nd at 10 pm. David Baker pays tribute to musician Coltrane and writer Dunbar, while Kevin Beavers has fun, and Judith Lang Zaimont gets snazzy on two pieces from her Prestidigitations album.

Now is the Time means American contemporary music on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org.

Judith Lang Zaimont. Snazzy Sonata
Kevin Beavers. Sourpuss
David N. Baker. Sonata I
Judith Lang Zaimont. Hesitation Rag

Now is the Time combines all styles of concert music by living American composers, every Sunday night at 10. Here are the recording details and complete schedule.

Now is the Time May 29

For the Memorial Day Weekend, Sunday May 29th, it’s all solo piano music on Now is the Time. Judith Lang Zaimont’s CD of rags, Prestidigitations, yields two delights, and we dip into Nicola Melville’s recording of some of her favorite contemporary composers for the engaging work by Kevin Beavers. Finally, David Baker’s jazz-inspired first Sonata contains tributes to Paul Lawrence Dunbar and John Coltrane.

Judith Lang Zaimont. Snazzy Sonata

Kevin Beavers. Sourpuss

David N. Baker. Sonata I

Judith Lang Zaimont. Hesitation Rag

John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman, Antonio Vivaldi

hartmanFor Valentine’s Day, WRTI asked us for our “favorite romantic CDs.” I came up with one easily enough (the same one Bob Perkins did…I am not worthy and no, I did not peek), but then thought that a classical CD might be expected of me, so then I was stumped. Favorite classical would be hard enough, but favorite romantic, hm, that took some thinking.

Okay, enough thinking…here’s what I wrote for the newsletter:

1. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Every ballad here is swoon-worthy, but “My One and Only Love”* is worth the price of admission alone. That tune (from 1952, late in The Great American Songbook game) and this pair (at the top of their game) are glowing embers. Warm yourself.


2. I try to resist, but I keep coming back to Vivaldi. If you attend to the concertos in the Opus 111 series—say, the CD of concertos for various instruments—and amble past the sweet young things on the cover, you will find music of unfailing sumptuousness and clarity. How rare is that, and how enticing? It softens the heart, sharpens the appetite, renews courage, and promotes civil discourse: all indispensable, I aver, to the proper incubation of romance.

* For my one and only band piece—actually, for solo trumpet with concert band—I took from this song the words “an April breeze” for the title, and then took the changes, over which I wrote a new tune. Rehearsing the band, the conductor said to me, “This doesn’t sound like band music.” I must have stared blankly at him, because he quickly followed that with, “That’s a compliment.”

You can read all my CD reviews here.