Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Rise Above to save Coltrane's house
Monday 3 21 11
The John Coltrane house is in bad shape. The chimney and cap are in disrepair and the roof shingles in the back are bucking, which I’m sure has led to some leaks in the house. The back brick wall is cracked and the rear needs major renovation. As I stood outside the house this past Saturday I felt ashamed that the house was in such poor shape.
This was his last home and a landmark for the place where he composed A Love Supreme, one of the masterpieces in jazz. Research states Mr. Coltrane composed it upstairs in his study for days and only interrupted for meals. When it was finished he came downstairs and told his wife, Alice, “It is done.”
While writing a paper on Coltrane for college, I learned he lived in Dix Hills and is buried in Pine lawn cemetery. He passed at Huntington Hospital, the same hospital where his sons were born. Searching the internet there were a few articles I came across, and eventually came in contact with Steve Fulgoni who led a campaign to save the house from demolition. I had the pleasure to meet Steve at the Coltrane house and was given a tour inside. At the time, there were new doors installed and an alarm system, windows were fixed, and inside the living room pictures of how the house appeared when Alice and her children lived there in the early seventies.
The house was purchased by the town back in 2004. This is where my piece ends, since I have little details about the not-for-profit which raised funds to rebuild the house. I sent a letter asking Steve what progress has been made. Since Saturday there has been no response. At one time, there was a web site which depicted the work to save the house, articles in Newsday, News12, and letters from jazz musicians. Today, there is a blog, but little details since 2008.
Through meeting Steve, I was invited to attend the Alice Coltrane memorial at St. John Divine cathedral in New York. I’ll never forget seeing Ravi Coltrane, John’s second oldest son and an incredible saxophone player, sitting at the end of our aisle and crying when a short documentary was played of his mother. And at the end of the memorial standing near the alter and hugging or shaking hands to everyone who passed their condolences. I spoke to Michelle Coltrane, who was the oldest and remembered her step father smoking a pipe and playing with the kids. She had fond memories of the house. I also had the chance to meet and interview Rachied Ali, one of John’s drummers who passed last year.
So join me as I investigate what happened to saving the Coltrane house. Today, my goal is calling the town to learn who is in charge of the repairs. Maybe I’ll shoot off an email to Ravi, since I recall he was on the board of the non-for-profit.
Later I called Steve who received my email, money is the issue. The big investors need to see a professional restoration plan, which costs money to generate. We discussed the proposed plans, like concerts, but they cost money to generate. Have they reached out to Bill Cosby? No.
So I’d take up the challenge and push it to fruition. There are many good angels that Coltrane continues to bless.
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