At a packed Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Alice Coltrane, son Ravi Coltrane, Roy Haynes and Charlie Hayden played for nearly 2 1/2 hours and then gave a 20 minute encore of the classic JC composition A Love Supreme. It was a memorial concert honoring John Coltrane’s September 23rd, birthday. Although a concert in homage to John (one of only three in the USA), it was obvious that Alice was the central attraction. She radiated a warm peacefullness in a glowing orange-gold sari, spotted with glittering silver jewels that flecked the concert hall up to the top of the nose-bleed section. An amazing spiritual journey through music was shared by the audience who left the concert floating on a cloud.
Roy Hayes was in outstanding physical form defying his 81 year old frame, and pushed his fellow musicians into further abstraction and “inner stellar” territory. Ravi often quoted his father, but remained true to his own precise, lyrical and fluid crystalline style. The concert was filled with the standard soloing and technical virtuoso banter that has always been at the center of jazz performance. But it was the uplifting mood, atmospheric drones and beautiful arpeggio washes of sound that are key and distinctive with the other-worldly music of Alice Coltrane, that kept the concert alive and vibrating. The note-bending wurlitzer and Korg synthesizer created sound dimensions like diamonds in the lotus. To call her music mind-altering is closer to the truth. She is always after the transcendent kernel in music, the eternal voice within all music that shines and radiates love and peace, continuing and extending the experiment begun by John Coltrane.
It has been 26 years between albums, since Alice’s highly acclaimed vision Translinear Light was released two years ago. During her semi-retirement from the stage, Alice continued playing and working on the spiritual side of her life. She stated, “To the listening audience: At this time in history, I tried to share the light upon the greatness and infinite Oneness of humanity, the universe, and the vast Beyond. Within the light of this Oneness, the Supreme allows us to soar into the transcendental glories of divine Consciousness endowed with joy, peace, and love.” Alice is again sharing this vision with her audience, and we are more in need of these lessons and insights, than at any other time. I think this is the reason behind her renewed involvement in performance and recording. Sure, she is helping her son Ravi gain exposure and attention, but he was headed there anyway, and is secure in his own abilities. Her return is about healing the world, trying to clean up and fix the mess we’ve created, doing whatever she can do. This is her gift. There can never be too much oneness or too much truth. Joy to Alice. Welcome home.
Both Alice Coltrane and Dorthy Ashby are rarefied women in jazz; virtuoso harp players, both alumnae of the Cass High School system in Detroit, one of the few public schools in the entire country that offered harp lessons within a jazz program. to learn more about Alice & ecstatic jazz check out: The Turiya Alice Coltrane Page
to hear an online Interview & profile: Alice Coltrane npr Interview