The History and Spirit of Jazz

Feb 25, 2017

Shelia Anderson and Mark Thompson

SiriusXM host Mark Thompson plays John Coltrane's "Alabama" at the end of every broadcast of his radio program, Make It Plain. Coltrane wrote and composed this song in 1963 in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that claimed the lives of four girls in Birmingham, Alabama.

The record appeared on the 1963 album, Live At Birdland, and features John Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Jimmy Garrison on bass. This song represented a statement of strength and unity amidst the overwhelming racial oppression  that plagued the United States at that time.

"Alabama" was an example of jazz's innate ability to harness the spirit and hopefulness of those fighting for equality. The memorial like opening of the record  builds to a powerful pace of protest, and exhibits the brilliance of Coltrane. Records like these still hold true to their intentions today. Fondly referred to as "Protest Music".

Mark Thompson's "progressive talk" radio show Make It Plain deals directly with politics and issues surrounding human rights. He sat down with Jazz After Hours host Sheila Anderson to talked about the special meaning of "Alabama", his spiritual connection with Charlie Byrd, and his life long love of Jazz.

Listen above for this edition of Jazz After Hour's Salon Sessions with Mark Thompson.