In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the national holiday dedicated to his leadership of the civil rights movement, here is the John Coltrane Quartet playing Coltrane’s “Alabama.” The performance is from Ralph J. Gleason’s Jazz Casual television series
John Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums.
Coltrane made the initial recording of “Alabama” on November 19, 1963, two months following the white supremacist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham. Four girlsthree of them 14 years old, one 11died in the blast, leading King to wire Alabama Governor George Wallace,
…the blood of four little children … is on your hands. Your irresponsible and misguided actions have created in Birmingham and Alabama the atmosphere that has induced continued violence and now murder.
It was a crucial event in the movement for federal civil rights legislation, which passed in 1964. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.