Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda

If somebody were to have recommended and album of Jazz Harp to me I would have said no thank you having immediately associated it with the Jazz Flute bit in Anchorman. Nobody needs either in their life. Fortunately I stumbled across it myself, with no visuals or knowledge of what the hell it actually was.

Who was Alice Coltrane? Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer, and swamini.  That last one I had to look up – In Hinduism, a swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी svāmī [sʋaːmiː]), sometimes abbreviated sw., is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into the religious monastic order, founded by some religious teacher. She was one of the few harpists in the history of jazz and recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels. As you may have guessed from the surname, she was the second wife of jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane.

One of the problems with Jazz is that, to many, it is either an unlistenable mess or, conversely, background music. Throw in some unexpected instruments such as the constant drone provided by the oud and tamboura, as well as the unusual prospect of a harp, and it really isn’t going to sound very appealing. When I first heard a track from this album I didn’t know any of that, I just heard it and thought it was quite brilliant. When you have Pharoah Sanders on sax – Ornette Coleman once described him as “probably the best tenor player in the world – then it is going to be good, great even.

Some interesting facts:

Paul Weller dedicated his song “Song For Alice (Dedicated to the Beautiful Legacy of Mrs. Coltrane)”, from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, to Coltrane; the track entitled “Alice” on Sunn O)))’s 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was similarly inspired. Electronic musician Flying Lotus is the grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane. The song “That Alice” on Laura Veirs’ album Warp and Weft is about Coltrane. Orange Cake Mix included a song entitled “Alice Coltrane” on their 1997 LP Silver Lining Underwater. Poet giovanni singleton’s book Ascension includes 49 poems written daily after Alice Coltrane’s death. I had never heard of her until a couple of months ago.

Having heard a track from it I found a copy of this album for £10 on Amazon, I’ve no idea why it was priced so low but it was and it was brand new, sealed, so I was pleased with that.

Tracklist

A1 Journey In Satchidananda 6:35
A2 Shiva-Loka 6:32
A3 Stopover Bombay 2:51
B1 Something About John Coltrane 9:39
B2 Isis And Osiris 11:29

Rating: 9.0

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