Sunday, January 14, 2007

Alice Coltrane (1937-2007)

Alice Coltrane at the piano

I have just read about the sad news of the death of Alice Coltrane on Mapsadaisical’s blog. A quick search on Google and Yahoo news sections have unfortunately confirmed it.

I first encountered Alice Coltrane through a interview that she gave to UK magazine The Wire in April 2002. Although hadn’t heard of her before, my interest in jazz being relatively recent, I was intrigued by the photos, and the association with John Coltrane both prompted me to read the article. In this interview, her spirituality came across quite strongly, and the way she was talking of her music gave me envy to hear some of her records. The interview coincided with the re-release of three of her Warner albums, Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana (1976), Transcendence (1977) and Transfiguration (1978). Dave Shooter, at work, had copies of all three on his desk, so I asked him if I could borrow them to which he told me that, since he had them already, I was welcomed to keep them.

On listening to Radha-Krisna and Transcendence especially, I loved the incredible fluidity of her music, especially on the pieces where she plays the harp or the piano. I was also fascinated by the chants and the hypnotic nature of her music.

It is not until Andrew recommended some of her earlier Impulse records that I grasped the majestic touch of the music she had produced following the death of John Coltrane in 1967 and truly fell in love with her work. Albums such as Ptah, The El Daoud (1970), Huntington Ashram Monastery (1969), A Monastic Trio (1968), Journey In Satchidananda (1970), Universal Consciousness (1972) and World Galaxy (1972), captured my imagination like no other jazz record has done. They are all permanently on my MP3 player.

I still have a few of her albums to discover, including her last one, some of them yet to be released on CD. Her latest album, Translinear Light, came out just over two years ago and was her first in 26 years. Recently, while visiting the Barbican Centre website, I found out she was due to give a rare concert there on April 1st, with her saxophonist son Ravi, bassist Charlie Haden and 81 year old drummer Roy Haynes. I immediately booked a ticket, and was very much looking forward to see her play. Unfortunately, she will not be coming to London.

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