Improvisation has always been important to African people. And it has evolved musically from field songs to spirituals, minstrel and to what is not now American jazz.

In tribute to this influence and this commemorative exhibition, songs from some of our great jazz artists are being shared.

Below we begin with John Coltrane.

John William Coltrane (also known as “Trane”; September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967[1]) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He was prolific, organizing at least fifty recording sessions as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.

Lionel Loueke (born 1973) is a guitarist born in the West African country of Benin. He moved to Ivory Coast in 1990 to study at the National Institute of Art. He attended the American School of Modern Music in Paris, France from 1994-1998. In 1999, Loueke was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he earned a degree in Jazz Performance in 2000. Loueke made his major-label debut in 2008, when Blue Note released his album Karibu. NPR.org praised the guitarist for his fusion of traditional African music with modern jazz harmonies, unique vocal inflections, and complex time signatures.

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery (March 6, 1923 – June 15, 1968) was an American jazz guitarist. He is widely considered one of the major jazz guitarists, emerging after such seminal figures as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian and influencing countless others, including Pat Martino, George Benson, Russell Malone, Emily Remler, Kenny Burrell, Pat Metheny, and Jimi Hendrix. DigitalDreamDoor named Montgomery the greatest jazz guitarist of all time.

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