In 1966 Alice Coltrane replaced McCoy Tyner in her husband John’s band, appearing on seminal albums like Live at The Village Vanguard Again! When he passed she carried the flame as bandleader on incendiary albums with fellow bandmembers such as Pharoah Sanders and Rashied Ali, though during this time she was also clearly suffering from the trauma of losing her husband and the responsibility of raising four children alone. Introduced to Swami Satchidananda her healing and spiritual enlightenment began, and her musical style evolved, exploring deeply spiritual music on the extraordinary 1970’s world music tinged Journey in Satchidananda.
Whilst her early music as leader was about free music, her four albums on Warner Brothers from 1973-78 are a remarkable evolution into a whole new form where free-jazz meets devotional music that was her own unique vision and less in the shadow of her late husband. 1976’s string and organ workout Eternity in particular is jaw dropping. By 1983 she was a spiritual leader in a Californian Ashram she founded, only performing and distributing cassettes to her followers. These tapes continued her remarkable development, experimenting with her own vocals (for the first time), synthesizers, harp, a 24 piece vocal choir and eastern percussion. Seriously there is nothing else in existence like this music. Luaka Bop are releasing a compilation of her Ashram tapes, entitled World Spirituality Classics Volume 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda on the 5th of May and it’s nothing short of the sound of transcendence.