ChickenBones: A Journal
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As the widow of Trane, many of us assume some of Coltrane simply rubbed off
on her and that her music was reductively a branch of the John Coltrane baobab.
her work is often overlooked or dismissed as spiritual “new age” noodling
Albums by Alice Coltrane
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The Divine Music of Alice Coltrane
Music Reviews by Mtume ya Salaam & Kalamu ya Salaam
–from Breath of Life
Divine music is one of the highest mercies extended to us by God. It is as powerful as prayer itself. The potency of sacred music has in certain instances superceded the curative properties of medicine, mantra, and affirmations. This is due to the hearts principle of love, purity, and innate receptivity. Often, the mind that knows the use of recitation and affirmations, at times has found that little value results when it exhaustedly abandons the constant repetition.
Divine music is a curative virtue; it is a gift from God that brings healing and comfort to the soul. This music can uplift ones spirit up to a higher dimension of being that is filled with peace and joy. Divine music is the sound of true life, wisdom, and bliss. This music transcends geographical boundaries, language barriers, age factors; and whether educated or uneducated, it reaches deep into the heart and soul, sacred and holy, like an Infinite sound of glory entering the Lords sanctuary.Turiyasangitananda
ALICE COLTRANE / Journey in Satchidananda
Asante sana. Thank you very much. For your music. Your spiritual life. The good and beauty you created. Asante sana.
Alice Lucille McLeod Coltrane was born in Detroit, Michigan to Solon and Anne McLeod. Her half-brother Ernie Farrow was a noted bass player who recorded with Yusef Lateef and Terry Gibbs. Alice began seriously studying piano at age seven and subsequently continued her music studies throughout high school and beyond. Her advanced studies included the music of Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Tschaikovsky. In the official biography on her website, Alice Coltrane notes Classical music for me, was an extensive, technical study for many years. At that time, I discovered it to be a truly profound music with a highly intellectual ambiance. I will always appreciate it with a kind remembrance and great esteem. Of the difference between classical music and jazz, the path she chose to take, Alice Coltrane said, “The classical artist must respectfully recreate the composers meaning. Although, with jazz music, you are allowed to develop your own creativity, improvisation and expression. This greatly inspires me.” Alice studied at the Detroit Institute of Technology. In her early twenties she lived in Paris where she studied with pianist Bud Powell. While in Paris she was briefly married to singer Kenny Pancho Hagood and they had a daughter together, Michelle. She returned to Detroit and around 1962 moved to New York, where she met John Coltrane a year or so later. At that time she was the pianist in the Terry Gibbs band. Alice and John Coltrane were married in 1965. They had three sons: John Jr., who died in a 1982 automobile accident; Ravi, who is a jazz saxophonist and recording artist, and Oran, who plays alto saxophone. In 1966 Alice Coltrane became the regular pianist in John Coltranes band after the departure of McCoy Tyner. Alice would later appear as a harpist on Tyners album Expansions. In 1967 when Coltrane died, Alice took a vow of celibacy and began her solo career as a recording artist. After recording over ten albums for Impulse and Warner Bros records, Alice Coltrane withdrew from commercial recording and devoted herself to her spiritual work and to managing the musical legacy of John Coltrane. In 1970 she studied under Swami Satchidananda and later under Sathya Sai Baba. She founded the Vedanta Center in San Francisco and later moved the ashram to Agoura Hills, outside of Los Angeles. For retired from the music industry for twenty-eight years but returned in 2004 with Translinear Light, a recording produced Ravi Coltrane. Sacred Language of Ascension, a new recording is forthcoming shortly.
Instead of being known mainly as John Coltranes wife, if Alice Coltrane had been a man, she would have been celebrated as one of the true visionaries of 20th century music. As the widow of Trane, many of us assume some of Coltrane simply rubbed off on her and that her music was reductively a branch of the John Coltrane baobab. As a female, one of only a numerically small group of instrumentalists in jazz, her work is often overlooked or dismissed as spiritual “new age” noodling. Yet when her work is examined and compared to her contemporaries, the musical evidence demonstrates that the breadth of her work is phenomenal. I have chosen four tracks but could easily have chosen eight or twelve others of equal merit. She started as a Bud Powell/bebop disciple and then became Tranes chosen helpmate in the last period of Coltranes recording career. The third incarnation of Alice Coltrane was as a solo recording artist. The fourth period was as a private spiritual musician. The fifth and final period was a return to jazz concerts and recordings.
The opening track is Journey in Satchidananda, a classic cut from a classic album. This is the album on which Alice Coltrane successfully manages to extend the John Coltrane musical legacy and simultaneously mark out her own directions. I choose this track specifically for the harp playing. The line up is Alice Coltrane on harp, Pharoah Sanders on sax, Cecil McBee on bass, Rashied Ali on drums, and Majid Shabazz on bells and tambourine.
Turiya And Ramakrishna is an example of Alice Coltranes deep piano work. I love the way Alice plays piano. Love how she merges intelligence with emotion. How she acquired the ability to play out and simultaneously sound in (i.e. accessible). Her Detroit childhood church background is foregrounded in how she voices her chords. It is interesting to note that Alice does fascinating chord alterations on piano, while on organ she takes a more harp/Bud Powell-like approach with the rippling arpeggios. Notice also the dynamics of her touch, a soft note played next to a more percussive struck note, the tremolos in the block chords, the rubato flow of her improvisations. Her playing moves with the grace of a massive current assaying a fifty-degree bend in the river. This track is from another classic Alice Coltrane jazz combo album, Ptah, The El-Daoud. Alices supporting bandmates are Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson on saxophones and flutes, Ron Carter on bass and Ben Riley on drums.
fell out laughing when I first heard Ghana Nila. This is some negroidal music. It would take one of us to merge black church music with Hindu spiritual songs/chants. I bet both devote Christians and devote Hindus are probably a little taken aback by this unicorn of sound. Alice is on organ and electric piano (the organ/piano duo is a mainstay of black church instrumentation), lining out the song like an old-time choir master. Check the ending with the voices stretching out.
Bliss: The Eternal Now and Bliss: The Eternal Now Return are actually remixes from Carlos Santanas Divine Light: Reconstruction & Mix Translation: Bill Laswell, an album that combines and remixes selections from two Santana albums, Illumination, which featured Alice Coltrane, and a second album that featured English guitarist John Mahavishnu McLaughlin. I listen to this remix album more than anything else by Santana. This piece is a good example of Alices meditative sound. The Eternal Now version is awash with Alices string arrangements. Her use of strings is a major element in her sonic repertoire. Although I am appreciative of Alices string work, I am more attuned to the jazz combo sound, hence I prefer Return. This is a slight musical introduction to the vast body of Alice Coltranes music.
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For those interested in knowing more I recommend that you visit Alice Coltranes official website. Also check out Zoilus, this website offers links to Alice Coltrane write-ups on the web some of which include mp3 recordings. An important interview with Alice Coltrane is here. I want to publicly thank everyone on the web who has written about Alice Coltrane. It is important to share as much information and insights as is humanly possible.Kalamu ya Salaam
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“Journey In Satchidananda” is beautiful. I love the drone sound throughout. The layering of instruments creates a tapestry of textures that sound like a good massage feels. You can feel this music vibrating inside of you. The bassline is excellent as well: the way it interacts with the drone and drums and the chimes (whatever they are) is perfect. Great track. “Turiya.” Another very good track. The blues feel in Alices playing is unexpected and very affecting. I say unexpected because Id already gotten used to the kind of out / Eastern / extemporaneous feel that she plays with on the other tracks. This one sounds like she could be playing in a blues club. Well, almost. I like it. Its not often that I hear a known artists music and am completely surprised by it. Ive heard so much musicespecially black American musicand Ive read so much about music, that I always feel like I have at least a vague idea of what an established artists music will sound like, even if Ive never heard it. In this case, Im completely taken aback. I wouldnt have been surprised by any one of these pieces, but I am very surprised by the breadth of them. By the variety. The piece Im listening to now is “Ghana Nila.” If it werent for the Hare Krishna-sounding bells and the chant, Id think it was a classic Soul Jazz record. The music is very loose and funkyit makes you want to clap and chant along with them. Just imagine if the bells were tambourines and the chant was something about hanging out in Detroit. Interesting.
Mtume ya Salaam
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ALICE COLTRANE / Leo
Not too many years from now, when I am sixty-nine, I want to be able to create art as hip as this.
Alice Coltrane is so deep that when she stood in New York and wiggled her toes, they felt seismic shocks on the other side of the world in China. I saw her present her music once. It was like a hushed moment in church when everyone is silently praying, sincerely praying, and something comes over you, you close your eyes and water your cheeks with tears of thanks to the creator for being alive. Instantly, even if you dont particularly care for her music, nevertheless, instantly you know this is some other kind of stuff, you know Alice Coltrane is operating on a different plane from most folks. There are two albums I cherish by Alice Coltrane. One is Journey In Satchidananda and the other is Transfiguration, a documentation of a April 16, 1978 concert in UCLAs Schoenberg Hall. That concert featured a 36-minute version of John Coltranes late-period composition, Leo. Alice Coltrane played organ, Reggie Workman was on bass, and Roy Haynes was the drummer. Other than her solo on Ogunde from Coltranes The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording, which is so far out there you need to be a musical astronomer with a state-of-the-art telescope just to catch sight of that music, but other than that solo (which is light years ahead of any other piano solo she recorded) the Transfiguration version of Leo is the most intensely fiery of all of her recorded music. Its mindblowing that the version of Leo from the 2006 UCLA concert aint too far behind the 1978 version, even though it occurred approximately twenty-eight years later. Thats a lot of water under the bridge to still be blazing so brightly. An audience member recorded this and shared it on the internet, so the sound is far from great, but who cares. The line-up is Alice Coltrane on organ, her son, Ravi Coltrane on saxophone, Reggie Workman on bass, and Trevor Lawrence on drums. There are moments when folk start literally screaming and hollering. This is not ecstasy of the flesh, but rather the much more profound pleasure of spirits elevating. Many will find this music difficult to deal with. I ask you to listen to the whole track at least once. You can even let it play in the background while you check your email, but, please, hear it. At least once. I dont know if Alice Coltrane was consciously trying to recapture what she did almost thirty years earlier, but I do know that Reggie Workman blazes as a bass player and that Trevor Lawrence, who was a last minute substitute, turns in a monster solo.
I do know that this is the most Trane-like solo that Ravi has recorded, even though Ravi never loses his own identity. (You wont mistake him for his father or for Pharoah or for any of the other horn men of that period.) I do know that Alice pulls out all the stops on her organ and becomes a human flame thrower shooting off incendiary keyboard runs.
Both bassist Reggie Workman, who was a major cohort of John Coltrane, and Alice Coltrane were in their late sixties when this was recorded. Late sixties. Undoubtedly they prove that its never too late. Ready or not, like it or not, this is some music every human needs to experience at least once in life.Kalamu ya Salaam
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A little out-ness
Above, Kalamu mentions that many people will find this music difficult to deal with. Go ahead and include me in that number. Late-period Tranewhether its directly from the original Impulse albums or, as in this case, some of the original players recreating itis notoriously hard to listen to for all but the must dedicated Trane fanatics. Its not just the wildness of the playing and the almost completely improvised nature of the song structure, its also the length. I dig a little out-ness here and there, but twenty minutes of it without a break? Thats a little rough.
I do like Alices style though. She has a very odd way of playing. Clusters of notes followed by brief silences and then more clusters. She plays like some people, usually highly-educated people, talk: in rapid bursts of phrases. But what is that instrument? Kalamu says its an organ, and I assume hes correct, but it almost sounds like a stringed instrument. It sounds like theres a vibrating quality to the notes that you dont usually hear in a keyboard. And, right near the end of her solo, Alice starts doing something to bend the notes. How the hell can you do that with an organ?Mtume ya Salaam
More info at this link Alice Coltrane
posted 21 January 2007
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign. The Economy
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 2 November 2007