Please note new street date: June 10. First-time vinyl reissue of one of the great debuts in jazz history. Originally released on Impulse in 1968. Features Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali. Born Alice McLeod into a musical Detroit family, Alice Coltrane began playing piano at age seven and later studied with Bud Powell in Paris. Upon returning to the States, she joined vibraphonist Terry Gibbs’s group and eventually shared a bill with the John Coltrane Quartet. In 1965, the two wed in Juárez, Mexico, and played alongside one another until her husband’s last performance in May, 1967. A Monastic Trio, created in the year following her husband’s passing, is Coltrane’s first recording as a band leader and features six original compositions. While John’s spirit can be felt throughout - from the song titles ('Ohnedaruth' was his adopted Hindu name) to the personnel (Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, and Pharoah Sanders were frequent collaborators) the album showcases Alice’s immense talent for fusing spiritual free jazz and new age with classical, Eastern, post-bop and gospel. As the late Amiri Baraka writes, "‘I Want to See You’ is a monastic piano concerto. With echoes of Europe..., it has a solemnity and majesty to it.... Yes, monastic is the word. The piano broods in its earth imagination."
May 12 street date. Originally released on Impulse! in 1971, Universal Consciousness is a major turning point in Alice Coltrane’s momentous career. While her previous albums pushed the limits of spiritual free-jazz and featured much of her late husband’s band, Universal Consciousness expands the harpist / pianist’s compositional palette with organ and strings (working with Ornette Coleman). “Oh Allah” is the finest example of Coltrane’s new direction: tense violins dissolve into sublime organ solos and exquisite brushwork from long-time Miles Davis collaborator Jack DeJohnette. While the title track undulates with a fierce clamor, “Hare Krishna” showcases Coltrane’s uncanny ability for transcendent and slow-paced arrangements. In The Wire’s “100 Records That Set the World on Fire,” David Toop writes, “[Universal Consciousness] clearly connects to other dyspeptic jazz traditions—the organ trio, the soloists with strings—yet volleys them into outer space, ancient Egypt, the Ganges, the great beyond. The production is astounding, the quality of improvisation is riveting, the string arrangements are apocalyptic rather than saccharine, the balance of turbulence and calm a genuine dialectic that later mystic / exotic post-jazz copped out of pursuing. Her lack of constraint was dimly regarded by adherents of ’70s jazz and its masculine orthodoxies, yet Alice deserved better credit for virtuosity, originality, and the sheer will power needed to realize her vision.” This first-time vinyl reissue has been carefully remastered from the original master tapes.
April 27 street date. On Sunday, February 21st, 1971, a benefit was held in New York's Carnegie Hall for Swami Satchidanda's Integral Yoga Institute, featuring Laura Nyro, the New Rascals and Alice Coltrane's All-Stars. The latter band was a remarkable coming-together of talent, with Lady Trane joined by legends such as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Jimmy Garrison on stupendous form (with a little assistance from members of the Yoga Institute). The astounding performance of John Coltrane's "Africa" on this set, broadcast on WQXR-FM, finds them improvising thrillingly, and is accompanied by background notes and images.
August 17 street date (date change). Her final Impulse album, originally released in 1972 • First-time vinyl reissue, remastered from the original master tapes • Featuring Alice Coltrane, Charlie Haden and Ben Riley! - Originally released in 1972, Lord Of Lords was Alice Coltrane’s final album for Impulse! and the last installment in her awe-inspiring trilogy that also included Universal Consciousness and World Galaxy. While all three records featured strings alongside a jazz ensemble, Lords Of Lords stood apart from its predecessors due to the sheer size of the orchestra (12 violins, 6 violas and 7 cellos, arranged and conducted by Coltrane herself) and its refined, blissful performances—shining a vital light on the devotional path that she would follow for the rest of her career. On the first two pieces, “Andromeda’s Suffering” and “Sri Rama Ohnedaruth” (titled after the spiritual name for her late husband), Alice’s dazzling piano and harp blend perfectly with the blanket of strings, while the haunting rhythm section of Charlie Haden and Ben Riley and a magnificent, droning electric organ emerge immaculately on the title track and closer “Going Home.” Coltrane’s musical vision is bold in its imagination and cosmic in scope, yet remains intensely personal and immediate. Lord Of Lords points inward as much as to the beyond, recalling her classical roots and recasting Eastern modes to radically invert the American avant-garde and spiritual jazz traditions. This first-time vinyl reissue has been carefully remastered from the original master tapes.
September 7 street date. After the death of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane embarked upon a solo career that was marked with the same uncompromising vision, spiritual probing, and formal innovation as that of her husband. Her first seven solo albums were recorded for the Impulse! label, home to John during the latter part of his career; those records, though offering more of the modal jazz with devotional overtones that Coltrane fans had come to cherish, also saw her branch out in unexpected ways, introducing new instruments (harp, Wurlitzer organ), new styles (raga, modern classical), and new approaches to recording, even incorporating classical string sections into a “free” musical environment. By the mid-‘70s, however, time was ripe for a change. ABC, the parent label of Impulse!, was suffering from management upheaval, while the now-local Warner Bros. label—Coltrane had moved to Woodland Hills, CA to raise her family—was aggressively pursuing a number of Impulse! artists, with Alice at the top of the list. Spiritual Eternal—The Complete Warner Bros. Studio Recordings brings together, for the first time ever, the three studio albums that Alice Coltrane cut for the Warner Bros. label, albums that proved to be her final commercial recordings of the 20th century. The albums incluede are Eternity, Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana, and Transcendence. Beautifully packaged Inside a 6-panel digipak with a 24-page booklet. notes by noted Coltrane scholar Ashley Kahn based on interviews with Coltrane producer Ed Michel and engineer Baker Bigsby plus rare photos and original album credits.
May 10 street date. (Alice Coltrane’s first album for Warner Bros., originally released in 1976 • Featuring bassist Charlie Haden and large orchestra • Includes adaptation of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. New fully liscensed pressing.) Released in 1976, Eternity was Alice Coltrane’s first album for Warner Bros. after eight wondrous records on Impulse! Combining the drones and textures of India, the gospel and R&B of her Detroit youth and the dissonance of modern classical composition, Coltrane’s music in the ‘70s would become increasingly difficult to categorize. Having moved a few years earlier to California (where she founded the Vedantic Center, an Ashram for spiritual studies), Coltrane stretches out on Eternity—incorporating various musical styles, including a stirring adaptation of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring—and the results are dazzling, both in sonic scope and emotional range. Opener “Spiritual Eternal” sways between Alice’s exploratory organ and the dramatic swell of lush strings. A meditative solo piece for harp, “Wisdom Eye,” precedes the rollicking rhythms of “Los Caballos,” which showcases some of her finest soloing. “Om Supreme” is the album’s first track to be built around bhajans (Hindu devotional songs). Featuring graceful keyboards backed by an angelic choir, this piece hints at the ecstatic devotional music that she would later make with members of her Ashram. While Coltrane would delve deeper into her spiritual journeys and continue to expand her musical interests on subsequent LPs, Eternity remains a vivid and compelling display of her unique vision, myriad talents and passions.
May 10 street date (date change). (First-time vinyl reissue of her second album for Warner Bros., originally released in 1977 • Featuring devotional chants sung by Coltrane’s students. New fully liscensed pressing.) Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana was the first of two albums Alice Coltrane released in 1977 (the other being Transcendence). Coltrane’s music during this period grew out of an epiphany in which she would renounce secular life and don the orange robes of a swamini (spiritual teacher in the Hindu tradition). Musically, this meant leaving jazz behind (at least partially) and embracing the chants and rhythms of devotional music. The first half of Radha-Krsna is mostly filled with simple arrangements of bhajans (Hindu devotional songs) and features the singing of students from the Vedantic Center, the Ashram that Coltrane founded in 1975. The group bounces with the joy of a gospel choir (not coincidentally, some had backgrounds in Southern Baptist churches). A rapturous aura permeates opener “Govinda Jai Jai” with Alice leading on Fender Rhodes. On “Prema Muditha,” she returns to acoustic piano (her main instrument in the early part of her career) to deliver a powerful and poignant theme. Sidelong “Om Namah Sivaya” beams with probing organ improvisations accompanied by the drumming of her 13-year-old son Aruna John Coltrane, Jr. This closing track offers a strong indication that even if Alice Coltrane was turning toward new traditions for inspiration, her music was still something that only she could make.
May 10 street date (date change). (Her third album for Warner Bros., originally released in 1977 • First-time vinyl reissue • Featuring uplifting chants, light handclaps and bluesy organ. New fully liscensed pressing.) Transcendence was not only Alice Coltrane’s last studio album for Warner Bros., it would also be her last studio work for nearly three decades. While Eternity and Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana followed the composer’s muse through an exciting range of musical styles and influences, Transcendence is perhaps the most fully realized of the three LPs, synthesizing the best elements of each into a monumental whole. Side one consists of intimate compositions with Alice’s pointillist harp enhanced by intricate string arrangements. At times, the emotional climaxes in “Radhe Shyam” and the title track sound like the score to an epic film. This would be the closest Coltrane ever came to chamber music, yet rendered with her uniquely spiritual tint. Side two moves into celestial territory with uplifting chants, light handclaps and bluesy organ. These call-and-response chants, featuring members from her Ashram, completely embody both African-American gospel and Hindu devotional traditions, an uncanny fusion that is transformed through Alice’s pure spirit. What runs through the album’s two musical halves is a powerful sense of devotion and discovery. At this point in her life, Coltrane was on a journey toward truth through sound, and Transcendence gives the listener a front row seat to this quest.
May 10 street date (date change). (Alice Coltrane’s first and only live album • Originally released in 1978 on Warner Bros.• Featuring Roy Haynes and Reggie Workman. New fully liscensed pressing.) By the late ’70s, Alice Coltrane had largely gravitated away from jazz, incorporating Hindu chants and hymns into her music to reflect a newfound sense of creative omnipotence. However, in April 1978, she would return to her roots, performing at University of California, Los Angeles to make her first and only live album. Transfiguration, featuring drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Reggie Workman, showcases Alice’s many compositional talents and fierce improvisatory abilities. Throughout this double LP set, her playing evokes the time spent in her late husband John Coltrane’s band and the avant-garde music of her earlier years. As biographer Franya J. Berkman writes, “Her up-tempo keyboard work here is the most exciting of her commercial career. With its rapid-fire transpositions of short figures; its long modal passages, rhythmic play, and timbral inventiveness; its sustained energy and burning pace; and the unrelenting support of Haynes and Workman, she takes leave of the jazz business with a truly breathtaking swan song.” Alice Coltrane would not revisit jazz on record for another 26 years, turning instead to spiritual music made with students at her Vedantic Center and self-releasing a series of cassettes under her Sanskrit name, Turiyasangitananda. It is hard to imagine a better farewell than the intense and spellbinding Transfiguration.