Tribute to John Coltrane

January 19, 2019

I am no where near as familiar with Jazz as I am with more mainstream styles of music. I have, of course seen it numerous times and I realize each member of the band takes a solo moment after they play as a group… they “show-off” or shine on their own instruments, then they return to a group performance as they end the song.


Improvisation is a big part of the performance, they often make up the music on the spot in the solo performances; while there are structured parts they play as a group and there is sheet music leading the way.


Last night I went to The Listening Room of Mobile to see a John Coltrane Tribute performance by four of the most professional musicians I have ever heard.


John Cochran is a jazz guitarist. He started playing at age 9. 

In addition to be a professional gigging musician, he teaches music. He studied music at Faulkner State and The University of Southern Mississippi, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz studies. He went on to get his masters degree. He is an adjunct professor of music currently..


John is one of the kindest, nicest guys around in addition to being one of the best guitarists I have ever watched, and I have seen hundreds. John Cochran is the one who put this group together and who led the group.


Some of his students were there, many of his fans were there. The place was so packed there was no room for one more to squeeze in. This made for an exciting evening of music.


Joining him was John Milham on the drums. John Milham has been a professional musician since 1997, he has toured the world playing drums with many artist. His music is described as Avant-garde Jazz. He is also a composer, having released his debut CD “Arden’s Garden in 2018, via Skate Mountain Records. John Milham is a prince of a guy, always considerate of others and pleasant to be around. He teaches percussion in Mobile and Fairhope.

There is no better drummer anywhere, and no better man that I have ever met.


Chris Severin is a bassist. He lives in New Orleans. He is one of the best in the world. He also teaches music as do John Cochran and John Milham. Chris is a graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. As a skilled teacher himself, he believes in and promotes consistent practice as the path to a musician’s success and pay off. He has played for and continues to play with the best musicians in the world.


Completing the group is the Saxophonist, Clarence Johnson, III out of New Orleans. Clarence, just like the other three in the ensemble, also teaches. He is a very spiritual man and an extremely talented musician. He says “I’m using music to imitate life”. He tells of guys who go in the backyard and listen to the hummingbirds  because everything around us is music.” He further says “That holistic philosophy and thought is not just how I play music, it’s how I live my life!” I had never known of Clarence before last night’s show, but I am very impressed with this man. He is a gentleman and a true professional.


One of the first songs they played last night was called “Lazy Bird”. Clarence brought down the house with his solos on that song. There was nothing “lazy” about it. 


At one point John Cochran said he and Clarence would do a duet that was initially done by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. It was masterful the way those two played that song. The audience roared as they completed it. 


John said that often students (freshman students) will come to his office and ask him to teach them to play “Giant Steps”. He says, “I have trouble playing that one myself”. Then he says you have to learn “Stella by Starlight” first. The band played “Stella by Starlight” (I believe he said Coltrane and Miles Davis did that one).

The last two songs of the evening were “Giant Steps” and “A Love Supreme”.


John talked about his idol, John Coltrane and how he struggled with a heroine addiction and he quit the hard way by closing himself in for 7 days and toughing it out to rid himself of that addiction….it is a rare person who has that kind of strength. I understand he never relapsed, he was off of the drugs for good. That and his music make for an amazing story about an amazing man and his life.


I was glad to be there and to witness such magic. The crowd jumped to their feet and roared in applause when the last note was played on that stage. No one could expect a better Jazz show anywhere and it was at The Listening Room of Mobile last night. 


Thank you Jim Pennington and The Listening Room of Mobile for scheduling this show

Thank you John Cochran, John Milham, Chris Severin and Clarence Johnson, III for a masterful performance.

Thank you Mobile for showing up to support REAL music, Live music and fabulous Musicians

Juanita Smith

Music Mom



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