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Music Memory - Rich Brown

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week bassist Rich Brown shares his memory of his introduction to the music of John Coltrane and his connection to the tune "Alabama".

One of my most important music memories was when I was about 18 or 19 years old.  Jazz was very new to me. My first purchase was a Miles Davis anthology, and a 3 CD compilation of John Coltrane’s music.  I knew very little about Jazz, but as I listened, one particular Coltrane piece started to play and I was mesmerized.  This instrumental music suddenly evoked vivid black & white images of African Americans being brutalized by police,  images of the KKK, and Dr. Martin Luther King.  I could see the entire US civil rights movement of the 1960’s in one song.  When the song concluded, I had to know the title. The song’s title was just one word, “Alabama”.  I sat frozen, amazed by what this music had just done to me, and for me.  This was what music is all about.  It’s an absolute blessing for me to be a musician, and to realize that what I create could potentially have the same effect on someone even years from now.

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