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The transformative power of music

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Leonard Brown, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of music and African Amer­ican Studies at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, believes in the trans­for­ma­tive power of music, which, he says, “can be a force to make the world a better place.”

He has a par­tic­ular love for jazz, a musical style born out of a mix of African and Euro­pean tra­di­tions, and cofounded the John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert in 1977 in cel­e­bra­tion of the musical and spir­i­tual legacy of the pio­neering jazz saxophonist.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity will host the 35th annual Coltrane con­cert in Blackman Audi­to­rium on Sat­urday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be pur­chased online or by calling 617–373-4700.

The world’s oldest annual per­for­mance tribute to the jazz legend will fea­ture an 11-​​piece ensemble cast. Per­formers will include pianist Emmett Price, a co-​​producer of the con­cert and an asso­ciate pro­fessor of music at North­eastern, and drummer Terri Lyne Car­rington, a 2012 Grammy-​​Award winner, com­poser and record producer.

Brown, who will play the tenor and soprano sax­o­phone, noted that the tal­ented musi­cians will bring a unique inter­pre­ta­tion to Coltrane clas­sics such as “Equinox,” “After the Rain” and “Cen­tral Park West.”

“People keep coming back to the show because of the integrity and sin­cerity we bring to our inter­pre­ta­tion of Coltrane,” he says. “We try to breathe life into his songs while staying true to his form.”

Approx­i­mately 80 stu­dents from three local schools that par­tic­i­pate in the John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert Out­reach Pro­gram will attend the per­for­mance for free. Since its incep­tion in 1994, the out­reach pro­gram has used music as the con­text to ini­tia­tive a unique exchange between gen­er­a­tions of teachers, musi­cians and more than 10,000 students.

The out­reach program’s ulti­mate goal is to expose stu­dents to qual­i­ties such as per­se­ver­ance, focus, pos­i­tive self-​​image and the will­ing­ness to learn. With younger stu­dents, the goal is more straight­for­ward: to bring music into their lives.

“Most kids don’t hear music like this,” Brown says. “The lis­tening expe­ri­ence can help them develop their intel­li­gence and their capacity for making the world a better place.”