Kids for Coltrane

Archive for December 2009

Drawing by Louis Vignapiano

The House unanimously passsed H.Res. 894, honoring the 50th anniversay of the Miles Davis recording Kind of Blue and reaffirmed jazz as a national treasure. Leading this effort was Representative John Conyers Jr. of  Michigan. This album brought jazz into the mainstream and influenced musicians all over the world.  Miles Davis recorded this masterpiece with his sextet which consisted of  John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb.  I called Representative Conyers office to thank him for his dedication to jazz and tell him about the Kids for Coltrane.  To help celebrate this special honor, I plan on going to see and  hear Jimmy Cobb at the Iridium in New York City this weekend.  I will certainly share Kind of Blue with my young students.

During this holiday season, I wish you all moments that create exquisite memories.  I pray  that we all move toward living our lives at higher levels of consciousness, and we walk down our individual paths with the virtues to guide us. My students will tell you that the virtue I value the most is honesty…without it in your life everything else is askew. What gifts do you want to give your family and friends?…Of course we give material things and we do it with care, but the real gift you give to society is yourself. Live a life with internal power and your existence becomes a gift.  Move toward what is noble in your life and you will feel life’s energy…be attracted to what uplifts and dignifies.  The greatest gifts human beings give one another are art and love.  What is created from the soul whether it be visual art or music emerges from what is graciously the truth of a human being. Great artists understand that what they offer is a gift to humanity…and they are grateful  for the power that they share with the world. Remember that all life is sacred and that beauty lives in all forms.  Dr. David Hawkins writes, ” What of a true teacher? In the first place,  a universal hallmark is that the true teacher never controls anyone’s life in any way-instead, they merely explain how to advance consciousness.” We learn the lessons of life and move toward self discovery and growth…we evolve.  So during this holiday season, and as you move forward in your lives  embrace  love,  joy, peace and enlightenment. Forgive yourself and others as we make human mistakes, learn from those mistakes. Remember to be compassionate to  yourself and others. Live a life in truth…find your power in integrity and increase your capacity for compassion…this is my holiday wish and wish for the new year for all of you and myself. I would like to take this moment to tell all my friends and family who have truly loved me through the years…this love has been such a gift to me.  My most beautiful blessings have been my children Victoria and Anthony, and the honor that has been bestowed upon me to teach other people’s children… I am truly grateful.  I will leave you with the words of Emily Dickinson as we end 2009…see you in 2010…with love and smiles,

Christine Termini Passarella

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”

I would like to send a special holiday wish to our soldiers and their families. Wishing you all love and protection.

Photo by Christine Passarella

What a special privilege it was to experience the music of the supernatural talent of  jazz saxophonist Mr. Sonny Rollins. On December 6, 2009  Sonny shared his amazing gift to support Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Project.  He is an outstanding talent…and spiritual human being. I will never forget this  afternoon in Tarrytown,  New York.  Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane were close friends.  John wrote a song for him entitled Like Sonny. The two men spoke of each others talent with reverence.  Sonny reminded the audience on this occasion  that taking care of the environment is the responsibility of each individual.  Mr. Rollins is one of the greatest musicians of our time…and I had the extreme pleasure of hearing his brilliance live….Smiles, Christine


Sonny Rollins in Tarrytown, December 6, 2009

By Janis Seminara

Yesterday, the sleepy-hollow town of Tarrytown came alive with the blissful, most magical sounds of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. The beautiful Tarrytown Music Hall with its historic charm swayed homage as ambiance to this Jazz legend whose presence enchanted all on a late, wintry afternoon. This was a benefit concert for Clearwater, an environmental organization founded by folk singer Pete Seeger.  According to the, this benefit was apparently, “the first benefit Sonny Rollins has ever played and to the smallest venue he has ever played in over a decade.” The concert was hosted by actors, Deborah Winger and Arliss Howard who are both great fans of Sonny Rollins and couldn’t wait to finish their introductions so that they could enjoy (paraphrasing Debra Winger), “a few extra minutes of Sonny’s performance.”

Christine Passarella, founder of  The Kids for Coltrane project ( asked me to accompany her on this spur of the moment trek to Tarrytown because she had just discovered that Sonny was playing. She filled me in on the history between Sonny and John Coltrane, and that John Coltrane even wrote a song called, “Like Sonny” to pay homage to Sonny Rollins. I believe this piece captures the spirit of this prominent and important performer.

Christine had also sent me plenty of links to listen to so that I could prepare myself for the concert. After an hour or so of preparation, I couldn’t wait to see, hear and experience the magnanimous, soulful and celebratory energy of this generous human being. I was to be gifted beyond my expectations.

Sonny Rollins emerged in a red shirt, briefly addressing the Clearwater initiative and applauding their mission. He quickly delved into his music, moving with his saxophone across the stage, and parlaying with each of the other musicians. This is an aspect of Jazz that I particularly love, watching the band compliment each other with their own play on each song, their own style and voice. The entire concert was a complete joy, and while I won’t pretend that I knew each song by heart or title, I did recognize “Global Warming” and the Duke Ellington pieces. Sonny’s energy transcended age, and illustrates for all that when you live your bliss, age is just a recording of digits floating somewhere in time, and time transcended any modicum of measure for the entire performance until Sonny finally left the stage with yet another standing ovation.

As I write this article, I can still hear Sonny Rollin’s saxophone amidst flashes of red and gold on the Tarrytown Music Hall stage. This recollection will forever change my own vision of ‘holiday spirit’. For me, a quintessential and contemporary gift would be a miniature gold saxophone, embellished with a red satin bow and it would play “Global Warming” at the clap of one’s hands. It would memorialize Sonny Rollins’ spirit of generosity, this unforgettable concert and the purpose of Clearwater’s project, which should be on everyone’s holiday ‘wish list’.

There are many Sonny Rollins recordings to be enjoyed on You Tube, including “Global Warming” and interviews with Sonny. I particularly enjoyed the Freedom-Suite interview, which will give you a bit of history regarding this incredible man.

I also found a New York Times article online about this benefit concert which speaks about Sonny Rollin’s concern regarding environmental issues.

Thank You and God Bless you Sonny Rollins, and keep on playing!

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