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The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—continues, and you get to vote on who makes it to Round Two. The final match in our Uptown division pits its top seed, the legendary John Coltrane, against freestyle pioneer Lisa Lisa. Check out the arguments in favor of each, then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.
Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, John Coltrane managed to revolutionize both the hard bop and free jazz movements, contributing to the mainstream jazz lexicon while pushing the limits of the avant-garde. Some remember ‘Trane primarily as an extraordinary jazz theorist, while many cherish him above all as one of the greatest sax players of all time. Coltrane explored musical modes in further depth than any composers of his time, inventing the “sheets of sound” technique, where he reeled off flourishes of notes up and down any given mode at blistering speeds. Coltrane’s seminal album A Love Supreme marked his spiritual awakening, and interest in cosmic transcendence.
Lisa Velez’s career is a case study of New York City as global hub. The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, she grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and found success through a partnership with the Brooklyn-based production team Full Force, but her teen years were spent in Miami. Even her breakthrough single, “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” was only released Stateside once DJs kept playing the track from the European release Breakdancing. An innovator of Latin freestyle, her discography is a breathtaking explosion of styles: rap, R&B, Motown, dance, Latin pop, rock. If she isn’t as widely hailed as some of the other entrants here, it’s only because she was so ahead of her time.