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John Coltrane and Bilal Philips: Two Converts’ Paths

A Love Supreme: "May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain—it is all with God—in all ways forever.”

by
Robert Spencer

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March 15, 2013 - 7:00 am
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Jazz and Islam, Part V

John Coltrane and Bilal Philips: two musicians, one famous, the other obscure, but both men who in the course of their lives found themselves at an absolute impasse and underwent a dramatic conversion. And in those conversions, they chose two radically different paths for life and society.

Coltrane changed the sound of the tenor saxophone. When he arrived on the scene, tenor players tried to sound like Stan Getz or Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young or Ben Webster. Coltrane did not, and was at first even derided for the clear, sharp intensity of his tone. After his career and untimely death, however, virtually everyone who has taken up the instrument has tried to sound like John Coltrane.

But an arguably even greater change that John Coltrane made was within himself. In the first rush of success, he was caught up in the jazz musicians’ culture of the 1940s and 1950s, began drinking heavily, and became addicted to heroin. But then, as he recounted later: “During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.”

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All Comments   (5)
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Those basement clubs in NYC must have been something. Would love to go back in time to listen to the music -- scotch on the rocks in one hand with a lucky strike burning in my ash tray. Ah, pre Bloomberg NYC. Laughing at eternity
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A God who gives us life, just to have us bow at his 'awesomeness.' Sounds maturbatory to me, not creative.

A God who gives us life and offers us a path to his discovery. inspiring us by his creation so that we can, of our will offer new creation, not in competition with, but in celebration of his gifts...IS GOD.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a argument." It appears Mr. Phillips is doing nothing but going along with the crowd simply because he's in rebellion. Islam is not a religion that has anything at all to do with the Jehovah God we serve. Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ, The One True God, in Three Persons. Phillips has been deceived and is on the wrong path, unfortunately. The True God we serve would NEVER condone the murder of ANYONE, and it's all based on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think Mr. Phillips needs to understand that God is the ONLY giver of life and death. Allah is nothing but an imaginary idol, and if he ever was a person, his bones are in the ground along with every one of the world's idols. But Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, and now alive and living in His people. the Scriptures plainly say in Psalm 150 to PRAISE THE LORD, with stringed instruments, trumpet sound, harp and lyre, as well as resounding cymbals. Coltrane answered God's call on his life, but his flesh was weak and the enemy took him from us at a very early age. But he is in heaven with Jesus now!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bilal Philips conversion and abandonment of music illustrates why I believe Islam to be stuck in the 7th century.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Powerful piece.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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