It's possible that Ravi Coltrane, clutching his tenor saxophone as he passed through the living room to the makeshift bandstand in the back yard, didn't give a second thought to being in his father's house. If he noticed the upright piano at which John Coltrane spent hours writing music or just puzzling over chords—visualizing the fingerings that would enable him to sound two or three tones at once—it was probably out of the corner of his eye, the way someone half-sees the furniture in a room he's been in countless times before.
For the second of John Coltrane's three sons, now thirty-one and a musician himself, this probably applied even to the framed, faux-Bachrach photograph of John Coltrane in his Navy uniform, and to the two watercolors painted by the man whose death from liver cancer at the age of forty, in 1967, curiously only strengthened his claim to immortality.
Mementos such as these attract pilgrims from as far away as Europe and Japan to this house in Strawberry Mansion, across from the Fairmont Park driving range. Decaying and jittery with crime, this block must have been beautiful and serene when Coltrane moved here from South Philadelphia, with his mother, Alice, and his cousin Mary Lyerly, in 1952. Coltrane's cousin—the "Cousin Mary" for whom he named one of his most upbeat and enduring numbers—still lives here. Only she's Mary Alexander now, a recent widow who just last year resumed her leadership of the John W. Coltrane Cultural Society, whose fund-raising concert brought Ravi Coltrane to town.