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John Coltrane Group, 'Mitten Hall Memorial Auditorium', Temple University, Philadelphia PA, November 11, 1966

John Coltrane's November 11, 1966, performance in Temple University's Mitten Hall Memorial Auditorium was broadcast live by the university's public radio station, WRTI, a student-run 790-watt FM radio station operating from the university's main campus in Philadelphia. The broadcast staff seems to have been unsure whether the concert was really over when it ended, and the on-air hosts, Dave McLaughlin and Bob Rothstein, kept broadcasting for almost 12 minutes, filling the time with a discussion of the performance. Their post-concert commentary is transcribed below. Note that the commentators are incorrect in their identification of personnel onstage; see the John Coltrane Reference update for this concert for accurate details.

DAVE. The John Coltrane concert live from Temple University's Mitten Hall Memorial Auditorium. And we see the members of the group walking off the stage now, as the members of the audience scream for more. We are just like they, not knowing if the concert is over or not. Bob?

BOB. The stage is still lighted, everybody is in the wings, we can see them from our vantage point here in the balcony, and--the whole group is there, the whole contingent, the audience has quieted down completely now, nobody's making a sound but us up here. And everybody's waiting to see, the curtain hasn't closed yet, is there going to be more in the John Coltrane concert, we can't tell. We'll just hang in until --

DAVE. We're seeing now, Bob, the lights going on now, which we guess was some sort of a cue to the audience, because, people are starting to get up rather reluctantly and, heading for the exits. although as Bob said the curtain on stage is still wide open. And the members of the group just sort of walked off without any kind of final adieu.

BOB. The instruments are still there too, I mean. This is a, I don't know what you'd call it. I don't know what I call it. I guess they called it jazz. You heard the whole thing here on WRTI-FM, and a highly appreciative crowd was here. It's unlike anything I've ever heard before, to tell you the truth, I've never attended a concert or a jam session or anything like this before in my life.

DAVE. We got word before the concert went on the air this evening that John Coltrane himself said that this is not a jazz concert that we were to hear this evening, but yet some sort of a spiritual revivalment or something. And that I guess would maybe be a better terminology to use than a jazz concert.



BOB. We earlier, it's a funny thing, this is, this was strange, Coltrane is not working with his quartet, as I just learned recently, and I'm sure many of you know. There is no more McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. He doesn't work with them at all any longer. And we had no idea how many instruments he would be bringing with him, and as a matter of fact we still have no idea how many instruments he used today. He started out, him and three others, or four others, a piano player who happened to be his wife, it turned out to be his wife later on, Mrs. Alice--well Dave has a list of the prime instrumentation there and he'll give it to you right now, and then we'll talk about this a little later.

DAVE. This was a list of the instrumentalists that we received before the concert was to begin tonight, but it was nowhere complete, because the list that we have, as Bob mentioned, Mrs. Alice Coltrane, John's wife was on the piano throughout the entire concert tonight, of course John Coltrane appeared both on tenor sax, and on soprano sax, we had listed Pharoah Sanders also on tenor sax, Rashied Ali on drums, and Sonny Jackson on bass, but as the concert unfolded this evening, at the end of each number it seemed like another musician was added all the time, we started out with an unidentified conga player, and then finally as we ended there were at least four of them on the stage and maybe more than that. Also there appeared three different saxophonists in addition to Coltrane, two of whom we have no idea who they were, and as you could hear there were no kind of inst-- excuse me introductions made at all from the stage, the concert just began with music and ended the same way. So we can't you help here.

BOB. The only thing I might add, the only thing we did recognize, Coltrane just started off without any introduction at all, we had planned and we had hoped to get an introduction and greetings from Ron Worthheimer who was to MC the show. But that didn't come off, nothing happened even like that, the curtain opened and there was Coltrane and four other musicians standing behind him. And they started playing right away and continued for an hour and a half, 90 solid minutes, with hardly any breaks at all, and we had no idea what they were playing until he switched to soprano saxophone and then the melody came out he was playing "My Favorite Things", and then he took off on a wild improvisation of that and that couldn't be recognized.

DAVE. We might mention that some of the things we were able to detect which you might not have caught, is in the "My Favorite Things" after John went through the melody in the tune, the alto saxophonist that we heard was not Coltrane, and not to be confused John's soprano, he was one of the undentified saxophonists tonight. We don't know who he was but that was not Coltrane. An interesting thing that we did see, Bob is, earlier before "My Favorite Things" in one of the other tunes which was not identified, we saw the bass player

BOB: ha ha ha

DAVE: who by the way his name was Rashied Ali, Rashied sort of pulled out a violin from nowhere and started strumming away with such vigorous

BOB: Ha ha ha

DAVE: energy that all the strings

BOB: on the bow

DAVE: on the bow just snapped and disintegrated,

BOB: they were completely destroyed

DAVE: they were just hanging from the end, and no one could hear the violin player because he was nowhere near a microphone. But the visual impact was extraordinary to say the least.

BOB: He just kept going and going and going, broken strings and all, and after a while the strumming is, well actually he was raking the bow across the violin with just the bare wood of the bow, and it was something else to see. The whole spectacle was something else to see. John Coltrane stood up at the microphone with his tenor sax most of the time, and behind him on and off off stage everytime they stopped for one second another conga drum player would come on, and they had about five of them going at one time, many saxophone players, identified and otherwise, and a drummer, with his wife on piano, who got up in the middle of the concert, left, came back, got up, left. It was the strangest thing I've ever seen in my entire days of listening, watching, appreciating jazz.

DAVE: Right now, Bob, we can see here in the auditorium that John is standing at the edge of the stage bending over to a throng of about 30 to 40 people, signing autographs and talking with them. And some of the other musicians who appeared tonight are just standing on the stage milling around and not doing much of anything. There's still a some people left in the auditorium and probably have the same expression on their faces as we do, and that is sort of a blank, because the way the concert ended, it just--there really wasn't an end, the music just ceased...

BOB. stopped, ceased to exist, we heard nothing more and we knew nothing more. And there was, it was just there, It's as if I wonder, I'm wondering if these musicians are local boys, Philadelphians, or they're... from Mr. Coltrane's permanent group now. If he has a permanent group. It seems that John might have gathered these boys off of some nearby cafe


BOB: or street corner or something because I've never seen any of them, I've never heard of any of them.

DAVE. The only one I can recall is Pharoah Sanders who is a definite exponent of the avant garde in jazz which Coltrane is so well exploring now. But the way these conga players kept sort of popping on the stage, you know, they were coming out of the woodwork or something.

BOB. it was kind of a thing like, "anybody wants to play a little jazz tonight, stop over to Mitten Hall, John Coltrane's there, you can sit in for a session or two".

DAVE: The concert also started late, as you well know, and we had planned to give you a little bit of background about John and some of the members of the group, but we didn't have time because when we got word they were about to begin the lights just went down, the curtain opened up and there they were, in a matter of about 30 seconds. One thing that we can point out about Coltrane as a man is from a ... a story that appeared in Jazz Magazine in August 1966 concerning John Coltrane as viewed by Bob Thiele, who is the A&R man for Impulse Records, a label for which Coltrane is now recording. Few interesting things he says: Thiele first met Coltrane on the very night he was to record him for the first time at the Village Vanguard in New York, in November of '62. Thiele says, "he was very shy, tight-lipped and reserved. It was difficult for me to communicate with him and although I was there for two nights recording everything he played there was little conversation between us. Gradually," Thiele continues, "I was able to get through to him, it seems to me in retrospect that once John feels you're a friend he'll open up. He's quite careful you see as to whom he talks to and whom he will consider his friends. Once he does open up he remains basically shy, in contrast to the extremely forceful music that he plays."

BOB: Forceful isn't the word. Coltrane plays very pretty when he wants to, when he stops, and he has a very mellow and forceful is the word I guess but then he starts taking off on what Coltrane has in the past termed as 'sheets of sound'. Where he just goes up and down and up and down and, hits the scale about a million times over and over and over again, driving and pushing forward with both the tenor mainly and later on the alt--the soprano saxophones. It was something else I guess you could call it an exercise in total sound because the sound never stopped during the entire concert. Every musician was playing at his own speed or at least that's the way it sounded. The drummer was going full blast for the full 90 minutes just going out of his mind, he gave one of the finest exhibitions I've ever seen , he has extremely fast hands, I don't have the drummers name on hand. And everybody, Mrs. Coltrane at the piano just kept playing over and over again all at once, and John would play a set for a while, and then he'd take off into the wings and not appear again until the next set he played. Over and over again, in the concert during the concert, somebody grabbed the flute, started playing that, an unknown alto saxophone player came out and there was tambourines like I said, five conga drums, many many strange ....

DAVE: Speaking of the flute, Bob, the gentleman is now playing it on stage as there's still many people here, [sound of flute] and standing up there more or less by himself and .... you can hear him. I don't know what he's doing there but--

BOB. Well he's got soul.

DAVE: interesting encore to the concert, Robert, and still everyone waiting, not everyone but several people still milling around standing in front of the stage watching the musicians pack up their goods and head for home. We wanted to mention the drummer's name that Bob was searching for was Rashied Ali who neither of one of us are familiar with, but as Bob said a very interesting and talented drummer. Perhaps Robert, next Monday on Nocturne we might be able to explore a little bit more of the music of Coltrane and let our listeners give us their opinions .

BOB. Well I'll tell you. I've heard Coltrane in the past, and he was basically the same today, his playing per se John Coltrane on tenor saxophone or soprano. But I've never heard him backed up in exactly this way. Before. The whole setting was different, completely, it sounded like an LSD trip for a while. Just come, it came and came and came. There it was. Right.

DAVE. OK well Robert I think that's about it for now, from Mitten Hall and we're about ready to close. Hope you've enjoyed tonight's concert, don't forget Nocturne Monday night's from 7:30 until 10 oclock on WRTI and of course we'll be looking forward to future concerts here at Temple and try to bring them to you.

Special thanks, special thanks, special thanks are in order for all kinds of people tonight, and we'll let our announcer Bob Danzi tell you all about it. Bob? Thank you very much and so long.

BOB DANZI. WRTI-FM has presented live from Mitten Hall Auditorium, a John Coltrane concert. Your hosts were Dave McLaughlin and Bob Rothstein. Technical assistance by Ed Shockey and Jerry Cly. This is Bob Danzi speaking.

[Post concert broadcast with commentators Dave McLaughlin and Bob Rothstein, transcribed by David Wild]

Notes and Comments


Porter, Lewis. John Coltrane. Chronology, p. 376.

John Coltrane Reference. Chronology, p. 354


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