This weekend, a celebration of local history is taking place in High Point. It’s the ‘Trane Tracks music festival and fundraising event benefiting the restoration of jazz legend John Coltrane’s childhood home. 

Coltrane grew up in a quiet neighborhood in east High Point from 1928 to 1943 and graduated from William Penn High School a few blocks away. He and his family lived in a modest, two-story home built by his maternal grandfather, the Rev. W.W. Blair. The house remains, and today, efforts are well underway to restore it into a museum and community education center.

Event organizer and University of North Carolina at Greensboro master of museum studies student Tori Hinshaw says this weekend’s festival is all about building awareness and accessibility.

“A lot of times academic history and traditional museums can be a little threatening,” she says. “And so when you bring events and open up historic sites in a community to celebrate those really beautiful parts of their history, it brings a sense of pride and a sense of community and brings people together.”

Acclaimed tenor saxophonist and Greensboro Symphony Director of Operations Wally West says Coltrane, who died at the young age of 40, single-handedly changed the jazz landscape. He says for musicians, Trane was a practice hound, going from average saxophonist to tenor titan in less than 20 years, and in so doing, raising the bar for all who followed.

“There are stories of when he recorded the Live at the Village Vanguard and he would come off of his first set, and he would immediately go into the green room bathroom and practice until it was time for him to go back on for his second set,” says West. “And, you know, if he was awake, he was practicing.”

For avid fans, West says all that commitment led to exciting new playing techniques like sheets of sound — layers of lightning-fast notes — unusual fingerings, and unparalleled virtuosity.

“So, he’s always upping his game and always increasing the level of curiosity for the listener as to what he can do on that instrument,” he says.

The ‘Trane Tracks music festival is Sunday afternoon at Washington Terrace Park in High Point. Performers include The Trevor Percario Jazz Trio, The Unheard Project, and featured artists: The Spartan Jazz Collective.

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