John Coltrane mural at 29th and Diamond streets in North Philadelphia, by Ernel Martinez


Giant John Coltrane mural revealed in Philly reminds the world he’s the MVP

September 13, 2017

You can’t erase legends. And as a new mural in North Philadelphia reminds us, John Coltrane’s impact on jazz and music in general is legendary.

Designed by Ernel Martinez, the giant artwork comes in the wake of the 2014 destruction of a previous 12-year-old mural near Coltrane’s North Philadelphia house to make way for real estate development.

Original John Coltrane mural created in 2002, designed by artist John Lewis

Just blocks away from those ruins, the new portrait brings the saxophonist back to larger-than-life, placing the jazz great back where he belongs, in the heart of his old community.

Coltrane bought a house on North 33rd street in 1952, at the height of a jazz club craze in the area. The 2002 mural by John Lewis showed him in front of the house, and it was a great loss to the neighborhood when it was removed.

The new mural is similar in color scheme, showing Coltrane in front a blue sky holding his saxophone, with vignettes of the Philly music scene in the background.

“I wanted it to be rich and vibrant, similar to his music, but also layered and complex,” Martinez told WRTI.

Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden partnered with the developer to raise funds for Martinez’ mural on 29th and Diamond.

Welcome home, Trane. You’ll never be forgotten!