HOMETOWN HONOR: The annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival took place in Coltrane’s childhood home of High Point, North Carolina. (Glyn A Stanley Photography)

Eleventh Year Brings Growth, Growing Pains

The 11th annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival in Coltrane’s childhood home High Point, North Carolina, drew a record crowd over the weekend (Sept. 3-4) thanks in part to mild weather, new marketing and financial support from the state.

Organizers said a record 10,000 people attended over the two days.

The event typically draws an international audience of 7,000 jazz and blues enthusiasts.

The increase strained facilities from parking to concessions, with long lines and delays.

The lineup didn’t disappoint, however, with among others, Patti LaBelle, Chris Botti, Christian McBride, Cindy Blackman Santana, Larry McCray, Kirk Whalum and guest Keiko Matsui.

“This was our largest festival in attendance to date,” said Joe William, director of the Coltrane Festival. “Had the state not been there, we would have had a very difficult time. We would not have a festival with the caliber of artists at this level without state support.”

The origins of the festival date to 2004 when business and community leaders formed the Downtown Improvement Committee for the purpose of erecting a statue of the lauded saxophonist and composer.

The statue was dedicated in 2006 and in 2009, the Friends of John Coltrane, a 501 (C) (3), was created as an outgrowth of the project to produce an event honoring Coltrane, who learned to play in High Point before migrating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Two years later the first John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival was held in the city.