A search hit on my political site yesterday alerted me, but I didn't want to believe it. Well, now it's official.
New York Times:
Alice Coltrane, widow of the jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and the pianist in his later bands, who extended her musical searches into a vocation as a spiritual leader, died on Friday in Los Angeles. She was 69.
The cause was respiratory failure, said Marilyn McLeod, her sister and assistant.
Ms. Coltrane lived in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles near the Sai Anantam ashram in Agoura Hills, which she had founded in 1983. Known as Swami Turiyasangitananda, Sanskrit for “the highest song of God,” she was the guiding presence of the 48-acre ashram, set among the Santa Monica mountains, where 25 to 30 full-time residents study the Vedic scriptures of ancient India, as well as Buddhist and Islamic texts.
Alice Coltrane was already an accomplished bop pianist when she married John Coltrane in 1965, having played under luminaries such as Barry Harris, Stan Getz, Terry Gibbs and Yusef Lateef. She served as John's pianist in his final year and a half, replacing McCoy Tyner in 1966.
Along with former bandmate Pharoah Sanders, she has done the most to carry and even expand JC's vision of spiritual, free form, Eastern mysticism music that sometimes went well beyond the normal boundaries of what was widely held as being "jazz". She didn't just stick with the piano, but also organ and later, synthesizers. She could also play a mean harp. 1970's Ptah the El Daoud was an early post-John high point for her, which demonstrated that the modal form of jazz championed by her late husband was not quite yet exhausted for ideas.
Alice Coltrane - official website:
She was born and raised in the religious family of Solon and Anne McLeod in Detroit, Michigan, once hailed as a major musical capitol. Alice became interested in music and began her study of the piano at the age of seven. She consistently and diligently practiced and studied classical music. Subsequently, she enrolled in a more advanced study of the music of Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Tschaikowsky. She once said: "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. Subsequent to the completion of her studies, she said, "The classical artist must respectfully recreate the composer's meaning. Although, with jazz music, you are allowed to develop your own creativity, improvisation and expression. This greatly inspires me."
She graduated from high school with a scholarship to the Detroit Institute of Technology; however, her musical achievements began to echo throughout the city, to the extent that she played in many music halls, choirs and churches, for various occasions as weddings, funerals, and religious programs. ...
Of course, Alice Coltrane's 2004 album Translinear Light inspired the title of my LiveJournal. I'm sad that Alice will not see the release of her forthcoming album " Sacred Language of Ascension" but I'll be looking forward to hearing it.