Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Instrumentals: Journey in Satchidananda

Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidananda


There aren't enough harpists in jazz these days.

Alice Coltrane may have never completely escaped the shadow of her iconic husband, but she did create some fascinating music. Conversant on piano and harp, she uses both to good effect on this funky bit of free jazz. (And let me just say...a bit of funk goes a long way towards making free jazz more accessible, IMHO.)

With a few of her late husband's former sidemen on board (Pharoah Sanders on soprano sax and Rashied Ali on drums), Cecil McBee holding everything together with a slow, funky bass line, Tulsi providing the tambura drone, and Majid Shabazz sprinkling the works with Middle-Eastern percussion, "Journey in Satchidananda" sounds better than the sum of its parts might suggest.

Satchidananda, by the way, may be a reference to Swami Satchidananda, whom Alice had become a disciple of, but it is also an Indian compound word for a concept that is (very) roughly akin to the Buddhist concept of Nirvāṇa.

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