Conjuring Coltrane

By Kim Glann

I’m listening to John Coltrane’s seminal album “A Love Supreme,” soaking in his energetic riffs and masterful melodies. Even though I’ve never taken time to just sit and listen to it, I feel intimately familiar with so many of the songs – that’s how much this album, considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time – has permeated the American soundscape. Never mind how many other artists it has inspired.

One of these artists is Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the award-winning founder of Urban Bush Women (UBW), a Brooklyn-based dance company that weaves contemporary dance, music and text with the history, culture and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora. 

Zollar and company are taking up residency at the Ford in a few weeks. Their main purpose for coming out west is to perform their newest work Walking with ‘Trane, a piece inspired by Coltrane’s musical life and spiritual journey. Created as a full length suite divided into two parts by choreographers Zollar and Samantha Speis and dramaturg Talvin Wilks, in collaboration with the company, this deeply resonate dance piece aims to capture the visceral qualities of Coltrane’s music.

Urban Bush Women

Side A is described by UBW as a conjuring of Coltrane’s essence. Innovative movement based on the roots of Coltrane’s music will be performed to an original score by experimental electronic musician Philip White, taking us on a journey through echoes of the blues, bebop, hard bop and free jazz.

Side B explores the artistic imprint “A Love Supreme” has made on so many. Called “FREED(OM),” Side B is a free-fall suite of states - diagonal pulls, suspended silences, chaotic spirals and ultimately, transcendence. Accompanied by live music composed and played by George Caldwell, the piece is a riff on Coltrane’s “Pursuance,” and dives deep into the depths of Coltrane’s tremendous legacy.

Urban Bush Women

Performed under the stars on the new Ford stage? The result should be pure magic. 

The LA County Arts Commission presents the Ford Signature Series: Urban Bush Women with CONTRA-TIEMPO on Saturday, August 27. Read more about the show here.