JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA – ALICE COLTRANE.

I’m sure that you all know of the interest in Eastern philosophy and music that existed in the 1960′s, many musicians dabbled in it, some more seriously than others. This week’s album choice from that period is by John Coltrane’s wife Alice, she was a musician also and was a devotee of an Indian Hindu, Swami Satchidananda. This album was dedicated to him and my youtube choice is the title cut. I bought this album in 1970 and became enthralled by this piece, I was so intrigued by it that I spent hours trying to figure out how to incorporate it into a film, with no success. Today with computers that would be so much easier. 

Pharaoh Sanders is featured on the soprano sax and the rest of the musicians are:

 All music review by Thom Jurek

 The CD reissue of Alice Coltrane‘s landmark Journey to Satchidananda reveals just how far the pianist and widow of John Coltrane had come in the three years after his death. The compositions here are wildly open and droning figures built on whole tones and minor modes. And while it’s true that one can definitely hear her late husband’s influence on this music, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Pharoah Sanders‘ playing on the title cut, “Shiva-Loka,” and “Isis and Osiris” (which also features the Vishnu Wood on oud and Charlie Haden on bass) is gloriously restrained and melodic. Coltrane‘s harp playing, too, is an element of tonal expansion as much as it is a modal and melodic device. With a tamboura player, Cecil McBee on bass, Rashied Ali on drums, and Majid Shabazz on bells and tambourine, tracks such as “Stopover Bombay” and the D minor modally drenched “Something About John Coltrane” become exercised in truly Eastern blues improvisation. Sanders plays soprano exclusively, and the interplay between it and Coltrane‘s piano and harp is mesmerizing. With the drone factor supplied either by the tamboura or the oud, the elongation of line and extended duration of intervallic exploration is wondrous. The depths to which these blues are played reveal their roots in African antiquity more fully than any jazz or blues music on record, a tenet that exists today over 30 years after the fact. One last note, the “Isis and Osiris” track, which was recorded live at the Village Gate, features some of the most intense bass and drum interplay — as it exists between Haden and Ali — in the history of vanguard jazz. Truly, this is a remarkable album, and necessary for anyone interested in the development of modal and experimental jazz. It’s also remarkably accessible.

 

6 thoughts on “JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA – ALICE COLTRANE.

  1. Thank you GF for this post ! ! !

    I really enjoyed listening to it and although \I do not normally listen to Jazz this really captured my imagination ! ! !

    It is great to hear music from a woman that stands apart from a famous husband but at the same time her the influence of one on the other ! ! !

    Thank you ! ! !

  2. Great post goneforeign! I love this this album. I have to admit I’m also an admirer of swami Satchidananda’s teachings. I’ve been listening to alot of both Alice’s and John’s work recently and I found that this quote from John popped into my head
    “I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song and immediately he’d receive all the money he needed.”

    I don’t really know why, I think I felt a certain healing quality to the music.I felt like both John and Alice were really trying to tap into this limitless power of sound and music. This also could have been due to their interest in Hindu philosophy, as it’s long been understood in various culture’s ancient knowledge that sound has literal healing capability.

    Hmm, sorry for my ramblings. I wanted to write about this here, but unfortunately I still have not figured out how to post (aside from comments) :/

  3. Bluetrain: I saw your post last week and hoped you’d stick around long enough to enjoy this one. Are you from South Africa? If you would like to post here you’ll find a pretty good set of directions up at the top under the heading ‘manual’, it’s not difficult and we’d welcome any fresh blood with new ideas.
    Scroll back through the ages and you’ll get some idea of the diversity of tastes hereabouts, we go back several years.
    Sakura: I’m glad you enjoyed this one but please don’t say that you don’t normally listen to jazz, you’ll miss out on an enormous body of diverse and valuable music, I have more scheduled and I think you will enjoy it. Stay tuned.

    • Thanks goneforeign. I have indeed checked out some of older posts, and am impressed with the diversity. Unfortunately I’m not from South Africa though, just grey and rainy old London.

  4. Thanks for the tip-off GF.

    It sounded like just my cup of tea from the write-up and I just listened through on Spotify and wasn’t disappointed !

    There seemed to be so much going on in each song that I think I’ll need another few listens for it all to sink in, but it sounded great on first listen – cheers!

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