John Coltrane Quartet Plays Alabama:
I've noted before that there is lots of great jazz on YouTube these days, but it's pretty hard to find a strong musical performance that is complete, acoustically clean, visually compelling, and yet not already widely known. I posted a link back in December to Horace Silver's Quintet playing Senor Blues, and today I wanted to highlight this performance of the John Coltrane Quartet playing "Alabama."
  There's a famous history to this song that makes it all the more powerful as a work of art. It represented Coltrane's personal reaction to hearing about a church bombing in Alabama in the fall of 1963. As C. Michael Bailey explains in reference to the studio version:
  In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, a gaggle of malcontents planted 12 sticks of dynamite in a window well outside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The dynamite exploded eight hours later killing Denise McNair, 11, and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins, all 14, in the process galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement. Three months later, on November 18, 1963, John Coltrane stepped up to the microphone in fabled Englewood, NJ studio of one Rudy Van Gelder and over a McCoy Tyner Tremolo, blew his searing and definitive statement on the subject of the bombing-- "Alabama."
  The You Tube clip is of a live performance of the song at KQED studios in San Franscisco on November 1, 1963, two-and-a-half weeks before the studio recording, for Ralph Gleason's TV show, Jazz Casual. It features Coltrane's classic quartet, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. The performance is fairly short and Tyner doesn't solo, but you can see more (including a strong Tyner solo) by watching the Quartet's performance of Afro-Blue from the same program.

  Where to go to hear more? If you like this performance but you're new to jazz, I would probably start with My Favorite Things, which is the most accessible Coltrane/Tyner pairing. The studio version of Alabama appears on Live at Birdland, which is a very strong album although an eclectic mix of performances. Finally, the undisputed masterpiece of the Coltrane quartet is A Love Supreme, which is justly celebrated as one of the top jazz albums of all time.