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Courtesy of Elise Capron
A portion of the records contained in "The John Coltrane Memorial Black Music Archive" in Del Mar, Calif. as seen in this undated photograph.

Music collector's 'Love Supreme' for John Coltrane and Black music is on display in rare record archive

For 65 years, Bram Dijkstra of Del Mar has been collecting music. What began as a passion for the music of jazz great John Coltrane, is now a nearly 50,000 vinyl record collection that spans genres from Jazz and early R&B to Latin, Reggae, Afrobeat and countless other genres and musical movements.

The "John Coltrane Memorial Black Music Archive" — as Dijkstra has dubbed his collection — has been called “one of the major music collections in America." Apart from being an exhaustive collection of Black music, it serves as a testament to the wide-reaching impact of African rhythm and sound structure on global music.

KPBS Midday Edition spoke with Dijkstra about six selections from his archive, the importance of the songs themselves, and what role John Coltrane has played in his lifelong passion for music.


Here's more on the John Coltrane Memorial Black Music Archive, in Dijkstra's own words:

Well, it's called the "John Coltrane Memorial" collection because as a Dutch boy I became absolutely fascinated with the sound of John Coltrane - which I first heard with Miles Davis. I began to study his music and, essentially, he became the reason why I came to the United States some sixty years ago.

The interconnection [of the archive's music] is through rhythm, through the various poly-rhythms which come out of Africa and then spread through a diaspora of various forms of rhythm. Different cultures pick up certain kinds of rhythm, but they all weave back into a sound that is really a form of communication that is extremely important.

In the music of the Dogon, from Mali, there is a myth that the drum taught humanity how to speak. That notion is really something that weaves through all the forms of music that are connected with the drum, because the drum is the articulation of what we really feel; our emotions. It drives our emotions, and it is just fascinating to me to see how different cultures bring out these elements.

'Avila and Tequila' By Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers


'Avila and Tequila' is, essentially, Blakey's attempt at blending new world jazz and rhythms with African rhythms as well. What he would do, at some points during his concerts, is put together a drum track. His musicians - people like the wonderful tenor saxophone player Hank Mobley, the great pianist Horace Silver and Kenny Dorham, a wonderful trumpeter - they would all take rhythm instruments and start playing them, and Blakey, who was probably the most aggressive drummer you could possibly imagine, would play over all of that.

'Bonsue' By Joe Mensah

Joe Mensah was Nigerian, and he was creating music at the same time as Fela Kuti started to play his music. They were both heavily influenced by American jazz, and the interesting thing is that where Fela Kuti played tenor saxophone mostly, Joe Mensah actually played an instrument that has actually disappeared into history: the Moog synthesizer.

'El Toro (Live)' by Mongo Santamaría

'El Toro' is absolutely one of the most magnificent pieces of music that I know of. It has great solos by Mongo Santamaría, but also by all his musicians. What is fascinating is that some of his musicians were U.S. American and some of his musicians were South American or Cuban, and they all blended together in the most amazing fashion. I'm afraid you're not going to hear much of it, but this is absolutely one of the most fabulous pieces of music you can imagine.

'Balance Ya-Ya' by Raoul Guillaume

It's actually an early Haitian piece of music that precedes what became, later, Kompa music. It is a form that is called 'Congo' - I don't know why they called it 'the Congo,' but it includes, clearly, a lot of elements that come from Africa. So the link between Africa and Haiti, which is quite obvious, is very striking in this piece.

'Zombie' by Fela Kuti and Afrika '70

Essentially, it's one of Fela's many attacks on the political situation in Nigeria; the way in which the Nigerian government was trying to force people into doing the political will of the government. 'Zombie' is an indication of what he thought the Nigerian government wanted to make the people of Nigeria into.

'Just Friends' by The Cecil Taylor Quintet featuring John Coltrane

What is fascinating is that Cecil Taylor, when this album was recorded in 1958, was on is way up as a real experimental musician. At the time his music hadn't yet evolved the way it would later on and, at the same time, John Coltrane's music was on the way to an evolution of something entirely different to his hard bop environments. So Cecil Taylor and Coltrane came together, and I think what is most fascinating about 'Hard Driving Jazz,' which is this album, is that they inspired each other.

What I feel [when listening to John Coltrane] is absolute creativity, a kind of a sense of wanting to find out more about everything: about life, about creativity, about the world in general - a pushing style of creativity that might push the world into a different direction. Coltrane was one of the most creative people in not just jazz, but in the entire world of music and culture, and I have always seen him as one of my greatest inspirations.

— Bram Dijkstra, March 2022

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. You can find a playlist of Bram Dijkstra's selections from the John Coltrane Memorial Black Music Archive on Spotify here.


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Jade Hindmon is KPBS Midday Edition co-host. Prior to making San Diego home, Jade worked in markets across the Southeast and Midwest, building a network of sources to tell the stories of people in each community. She worked as a multimedia journalist and anchor at WRTV in Indianapolis. While there, she launched “The Weekend Edition of Good Morning Indiana” and generated breaking news content for both broadcast and digital platforms. Prior to Indianapolis, she was an anchor and multimedia journalist at FOX Carolina in Greenville, SC. As part of that Emmy Award winning team, she covered elections, landed exclusive interviews, and interviewed presidential candidates. Jade also had the opportunity to cover international news and was able to travel to South Africa during the 2010 World Cup. Jade is a three-time Emmy nominee, a National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Finalist, and the recipient of a South Carolina Associated Press Award. She is a proud graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
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Harrison Patiño is a producer for "KPBS Midday Edition". His primary roles include story development, and is involved in the audio production and coordination of interview subjects. Prior to joining KPBS, Harrison held various positions at Hawaii Public Radio within its news and music departments. While pursuing a double major in journalism and classics at The University of Hawaii at Manoa, Harrison worked at the school's student-run radio station, KTUH. After graduating, Harrison served as a community advisor for the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Student Media Board.
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