Alice Coltrane RIP

Radha-Krsna Nama SankirtanaAlice Coltrane, a jazz musician possibly best known through her association with the music of her late husband John Coltrane, has died aged 60.

Originally classically trained, and an expert pianist, organist and harpist, Alice became part of the Jazz scene in Detroit in the sixties, playing with her own trio, as a duo with Terry Pollard, and with band leader Terry Gibb. It was while playing with Gibb that she met future husband John, whose band she played piano in from 1965 to his untimely death in 1967. Although Alice and John only knew each other for a few years, they had three children together, marrying in 1966. After his death she continued to manage his legacy and affairs, while continuing to perform in her own right, increasingly making meditative music.

In the early seventies she became an ever increasingly devote follower of Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba, founding a spiritual commune in the LA area. She continued to perform throughout the seventies, but then disappeared from the public eye until three acclaimed US concerts last year. However she had been in poor health for some time, reportedly dieing last week from respiratory failure.

Paying tribute to Coltrane, LA Times music reviewer Don Heckman said this weekend: “As fascinating – and influential – as her later music was, it tended to obscure the fact that she had started out as a solid, bebop-oriented pianist. I remember hearing, and jamming with, her in the early ’60s at photographer W Eugene Smith’s loft in Manhattan. At that time
she played with a brisk, rhythmic style immediately reminiscent of Bud Powell”.

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