Featured Artist

John Nichols

"52 Years of Love"


This edition’s cover art is by John Nichols from Honolulu, Hawaii. Nichols, widely traveled from Europe to Asia, extols Black culture with a career spanning four decades.

“Karma Coltrane: A Love Supreme” refers to the seminal release of the landmark album by the giant of the tenor sax John Coltrane and the 52 years since then. It evokes for the viewer a pensive, otherworldly sort of reverie. Alice Coltrane, his widow, is in the window of the temple, Asian sensibilities wafting in sheets of sound, while her late husband blows a supreme transcendent love carried by the Sanskrit-inspired melody.

Nichols underwent a week-long purgative fast in a single-minded pursuit to capture the mood resulting in “Karma Coltrane: A Love Supreme.” Most recently exhibited in Martha’s Vineyard, Los Angeles and D.C. and inspired by the Three M’s of Music, Medicine & Mother Nature, the artwork is a numbered etching on Rives paper.

“Halfway through the fast, my clarity gave me this vision of multi-dimensionality breaching our perceptual boundaries,” Nichols says.

Coltrane issued what was to be a turning point in modern Jazz expression in that turbulent year of 1965 which saw the Watts Riots, the rise of Black Power, and the March on Selma. The nation was still reeling from the death in Dallas of JFK, whose legacy was still a promise in the eye of most folks of color. Divisive feelings were running high at the time and what was to become Black Nationalism was still nascent. Against this context, Coltrane chose a message and a melody of Love.

Coltrane’s only son, Ravi Coltrane, gains his name from Ravi Shankar due to the immense respect that John felt for that master of the sitar. He soon was enraptured by the hypnotic textures of that characteristic droning voice. While in Honolulu, at the Blue Note, Ravi was pleased to view a stylized maternal portrait dedicated to his parents. He noticed that the image of his mother was coincidentally from an LP of hers entitled “Spirit.” Both living children have celebrated this paean to their musical forebears. Michelle Coltrane, Ravi’s sibling, and Nichols chanced to meet at the 114th medical gathering of the Black fraternal National Medical Association. Michelle sang for the audience and Nichols displayed his art, both to appreciative attendees. Nichols was amused when Michelle commented on his suggestion of a tribute album done mutually, and said, “If it wasn’t his idea he probably wouldn’t do it, but it’s a good idea!” the young lady said.

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