This morning Luaka Bop announced the release of the rare Alice Coltrane spiritual music that she recorded when she ceased releasing commercial material and retreated into her 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram outside of Los Angeles in 1983. There she recorded and released a series of devotional cassettes within her spiritual community. If you thought albums like Universal Consciousness, Transfiguration and Transcendence were overtly spiritual, then this music takes another step into devotion with sparse organ backing and a focus on her and her fellow practitioners voices. Whilst there have been a couple of limited vinyl reissues and a few cassettes appearing online over the years it’s amazing that this music is finally being collated, remastered and treated with the respect it deserves. ‘World Spirituality Classics, Vol. 1: The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’ will be issued May 5th. This is what the label has to say:
“Luaka Bop teamed with Alice’s children to find the original master tapes in the Coltrane archive. The recordings were prepared for re-mastering by the legendary engineer Baker Bigsby (Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, John Coltrane), who had overseen the original sessions in the 80s and 90s. The compilation showcases a diverse array of recordings in addition to Alice’s first vocal work: solo performances on her harp, small ensembles, and a 24-piece vocal choir. The release is dotted with eastern percussion, synthesizers, organs and strings, making for a mesmerizing, even otherworldly, listen. Alice was inspired by Vedic devotional songs from India and Nepal, adding her own music sensibility to the mix with original melodies and sophisticated song structures. She never lost her ability to draw from the bebop, blues and old-time spirituals of her Detroit youth, fusing a Western upbringing with Eastern classicism. In all, these recordings amount to a largely untold chapter in the life story of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda.”
You can find out more here.
And you can check out a great podcast of Sophie Miles playing Alice Coltrane music (including some of her Ashram music) here.