Carter on Coltrane: Detroit’s Own James Carter to Honor Jazz Legend at the DSO

As Carter turns 50-years-old, he considers his own legacy as well as Coltrane’s on music today.

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9 WDETFM Detroit public radio.

On Friday night at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, saxophonist James Carter will perform a tribute to jazz icon John Coltrane.

It’s a big hometown show for the Detroit musician, who is considered to be one of the greatest jazz artists performing today.

Even decades after his passing, Coltrane is still regarded as one of jazz music’s all-time greats.

“The truth is in his playing,” Carter says. “(Coltrane) is somebody that came up in the modern jazz ‘bebop’ era. Of course, various vices were prevalent at that particular time—most notably heroin. (Coltrane) had a ‘spiritual awakening’ in 1957 and basically quit cold turkey. Another ten years of output happened.”

For Carter, the song “Pursuance” from Coltrane’s album, A Love Supreme, always stands out.

“There’s that sense of urgency you hear in (Coltrane’s) playing,” adds Carter. “He was a paradigm-shifter.”

Carter stopped by WDET to perform a classic Coltrane track—“Naima.”

“Everybody has a Naima in they life,” says Carter. “Somebody that provides that balance for you.”

More info and tickets are available, here

Click on the audio player above to hear saxophonist James Carter discuss the legacy of one of jazz music’s all-time legends, John Coltrane. 


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.