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Lent #4: Alabama

lentColtrane again. Even after all these years (he died in 1967 at the age of 40) I’m energized and renewed every time I hear his music. His music is so alive, it’s almost like hearing it again for the first time. One particular composition, “Alabama” has stuck with me every since I heard it years ago.

Trane 4Trane wrote “Alabama” in response to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on June 15, 1963 by the Ku Klux Klan. The blast killed four young girls and became another rallying point in the civil rights movement.

It is one of the most evocative compositions I’ve ever heard. It brings the horrific event into a musical reality. The pain, sadness and angst bring the raw emotions to the surface. If Lent is a time of sadness, a season to reflect on the harsh realities of life through Jesus’ journey to the cross, then “Alabama” is Lent’s true lament.

Listen to the original recording (Live at Birdland) or an early TV program, Jazz Casual. Both were recorded in 1963 after the bombing, with the painful reality echoing in the music. It still echoes today.

Lenten Jazz Blessings.

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