One Long Island musician will honor another when the Wyandanch rapper Rakim performs Saturday afternoon to celebrate the 97th birthday of the late jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.
The show will take place at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills, in partnership with the nearby John and Alice Coltrane Home, which is currently under renovation. The Coltrane Home is best known as the place where the jazz icon wrote his 1964 masterpiece, “A Love Supreme,” while raising a family with his wife, Alice, an accomplished pianist and harpist.
Rakim will close out the Coltrane Home’s concert season, which has included performances from pianist David Virelles, drummer Jonathan Blake and the saxophonist Camille Thurman. Though best known as half of a hip-hop duo, Eric B. and Rakim, the rapper first spent time playing jazz saxophone at Wyandanch Memorial High School in the 1980s. Over the decades, Rakim has often spoken of Coltrane’s influence on his groundbreaking rap style.
“I started incorporating into my delivery how Coltrane played the sax,” Rakim told the online magazine The Believer in 2020. “Like, I tried to rhyme so you couldn’t hear me take a breath. I was implementing different rhythms, syncopated rhythms, and different styles into my delivery.”
Rakim, 55, has been in demand lately thanks to this year’s 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop. He performed at the Grammys as part of a multigenerational hip-hop revue in February, then became part of LL Cool J’s all-star U.S. tour, dubbed “The F.O.R.C.E. Tour.” Rakim also figured prominently in “All Up in the Biz,” a documentary about his Long Island friend and colleague Biz Markie, which premiered in August on Showtime.
What songs Rakim will perform on Saturday will be up to him, said Marcella Goheen, executive director of the Coltrane Home. Past shows, she noted, have consisted of relatively short sets — usually less than half an hour — followed by lengthy question-and-answer sessions. “Just like with all the other artists, we asked him to do a tribute to Coltrane in his own way,” Goheen explained. “So I don’t know what Rakim has prepared, but I know it will be special and intimate.”
Rakim performs Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library, 55 Vanderbilt Pkwy., Dix Hills. Advance tickets are required; the suggested donation is $40. For more information call (631) 860-9200; go to thecoltranehome.org; or email email@example.com.