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Remembering John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk - American Routes

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When John Coltrane finished high school in 1943, the 17 year old moved from North Carolina to Philadelphia, joining his mother, Alice, who worked as a domestic. Soon after his arrival, she bought him an alto sax. In the small apartment on 12th Street, he began a life of intense practice. Coltrane's talents grew in the city's vibrant jazz scene in the 1940s. Young Coltrane took theory classes at a local music school, and then went to night school in the clubs, with professors of jazz like Dizzy Gillespie, R&B sax man Earl Bostic, and alto player Johnny Hodges. Playing in different bands allowed John Coltrane to learn on the job, expanding his abilities both as a soloist and as an improviser. One of the most important stops on Coltrane's path to musical self-awareness was his residency with Thelonious Monk. He got there thanks to Miles Davis. Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter and Thelonious Monk's son, T.S. Monk, tell the story.

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 7 and Sundays at 6 to American Routes

American Routes is a weekly two-hour public radio program produced in New Orleans, presenting a broad range of American music - blues and jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, avant-garde and classical. Now in our 20th year on the air, American Routes explores the shared musical and cultural threads in these American styles and genres of music - and how they are distinguished.

The program also presents documentary features and artist interviews. Our conversations with artists such as Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, B.B. King, Dr. John, Dave Brubeck, Elvis Costello, Ray Charles, Randy Newman, McCoy Tyner, Lucinda Williams, Rufus Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. Join us as we ride legendary trains, or visit street parades, instrument-makers, roadside attractions and juke joints, and meet tap dancers, fishermen, fortunetellers and more.

In New Orleans, the show airs on WWNO