All Aboard: Ronnie Laws To Salute Coltrane in South Africa


Ronnie Laws will be among the artists saluting John Coltrane Nov. 9–10 in South Africa.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Artist)

Jazz saxophonist Ronnie Laws, actress/singer Eloise Laws and singer-songwriter/actress Lita Gaithers Owens will perform as part of a two-day celebration of John Coltrane, South African jazz and the documentary film Chasing Trane on board The Blue Train, Africa’s leading luxury train. Blue Train is the title of one of Coltrane’s most successful albums, released in 1958 on the Blue Note label.

Chasing Trane will be shown during the two-day journey, which takes place Nov. 9–10. Six contemporary South African jazz musicians will perform original compositions in the spirit of the iconic saxophonist at key destinations. They will give a private concert for The Blue Train guests in the fields of the famed Delaire Graff Wine Estate in Stellenbosch and perform as part of a grand finale at Kaleidoscope, a leading Cape Town jazz club.

Don Laka, a South African music producer, composer and Grammy nominee known for his work with Hugh Masekela, will direct and oversee the musical aspects of the event.

South African artist Dr. Bone and jazz saxophonist McCoy Mrubata will join Ronnie and Eloise Laws and Owens, along with local musicians, at Delaire and Kaleidoscope, and will perform for guests during the train journey.

Director John Scheinfeld’s Chasing Trane was produced by Spencer Proffer, Dave Harding, Scott Pascucci and John Beug. Denzel Washington performed the narrative voice of John Coltrane. The film won critical acclaim when it was screened at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. It opened at select U.S. theaters through a distribution deal with Abramorama. The film will be available on Netflix beginning in November.

Among those appearing in the documentary are President Bill Clinton, Carlos Santana, Wynton Marsalis, John Densmore, Kamasi Washington, Common and several musicians who performed with Coltrane, including Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Reggie Workman and Jimmy Heath.

On Nov. 17, Universal Music Enterprises will release the Chasing Trane DVD and Blu-ray with exclusive bonus features, and Verve/UMe will release the film’s audio companion—Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary Original Soundtrack—on CD, 180-gram vinyl (two LPs) and digital audio.

Also on Nov. 17, the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles will open a sweeping new Coltrane exhibit, Chasing Trane: Coltrane’s Musical Journey Transcended. The exhibit features rare performance footage and audio recordings from Coltrane’s Japanese tour in 1966, handwritten manuscripts, instruments and more. It will be a primary installation at the museum through September 2018.

Ronnie Laws, an original member of Earth, Wind & Fire, released a string of gold-selling albums on the Blue Note label. He has performed with Masekela, Stevie Wonder, Gregory Porter, Quincy Jones, Stanley Jordan, George Duke and B.B. King. His song “Settle Down” has made the ballot as a 2017 Grammy contender for both Best R&B Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance.

Eloise Laws, Ronnie’s wife, received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Broadway musical, and a Helen Hayes Award nomination, for her performance in the musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues at the Kennedy Center.

Owens is a co-author of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, which was nominated for four Tony Awards in 1999. Her lead and featured stage performances include It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, The Tin Pan Alley Rag, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Nunsense, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A … My Name is Alice, Purlie and For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.

For more information, click here. DB

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