Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Alice Coltrane - Universal Consciousnes /Lord Of Lords (Impulse!, 2011)

After the death of her husband and bandleader, the legendary John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane continued to record for Impulse Records for another few years before retreating to her ashram to concentrate on her spiritual concerns. Spirituality has always been the prime concern of her music, and the selections move farther and farther away from jazz into a somber liturgical music that is nonetheless fascinating to listen to. The first part of this collection is very enjoyable because it focuses on Coltrane’s electric organ playing. She was one of the few who was playing music on this instrument in jazz at this time, and it has a completely unique sound that is juxtaposed against the prevailing Jimmy Smith/Jack McDuff “grits and gravy” organ style of the day. It’s interesting to hear this sound swirling around the shimmering curtain of strings that are arranged for this music. Things get a little heavier towards the end of the collection with the strings taking on a stronger role with an added heaviness and seriousness like they are part of a formal, dignified rite or ceremony. Alice’s light and astral harp plays stark contrast against the heavy velvet drape of the strings and it makes for quite an unusual sound collage. It’s nice to have another chance to hear these records, Alice has long been overshadowed by her famous husband, but she had compelling ideas of her own that come to the forefront on this collection. (See Burning Ambulance for a more detailed review.) Universal Consciousness / Lord Of Lords - amazon.com

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