Alice Coltrane - Huntington Ashram Monastary (Impulse, 1969)
This was Alice Coltrane's second album for the Impulse and featured Ron Carter on bass and Rashied Ali on drums in additionto the leader's harp, piano and compositions. Many of the titles and compositions have spiritual themes reflecting the arena of Indian spirituality that she was moving to and would eventually lead her away from public performance for over 20 years in the 1980's and 90's.
The title track leads off the record with some sparkling harp over full bodied bass and light percussion. The harp over percussion has the gentle feeling of water falling softly over a waterfall. "Turiya" also features harp, a rare insturment in jazz, over bass and drums with a soft, peaceful, almost new-age feel. "Paramahansa Lake" gives the harp a little darker sound and ends the first side of the record.
The second side of the record finds the group exploring piano based compositions and improvisations. "Via Sivanandagar" puts Ali back on sticks and as does "IHS" which is a very dark piano piece (the title stands for I Have Suffered) with bowed bass adding to the tension. Alice Coltrane plays the piano in a cascading fashion almost like the harp. "Jaga Jaga Rama" ends the album on another strong note with the full trio of piano, bass and drums. It's too bad there's no organ on this record as well, because I think it's the instrument where she has the most unique style, but nonetheless this is an interesting record and is overdue for a CD version.
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