Thursday, January 18, 2007

Alice Coltrane

Instrumentalist and composer Alice Coltrane died on January 12, 2007 at age 69. Coltrane studied classical music and started her career as a jazz pianist in her native Detroit. She went on to become one of the few harpists in the history of jazz. A strong interest in Indian music and Eastern spirituality informed her meditative compositions as well as her personal life. She was the widow of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane.

Beginning in 1968, Coltrane recorded eleven albums in a decade, then took an extended sabbatical to focus on spiritual pursuits. After a 26 year absence she returned to recording in 2004 with the acclaimed Translinear Light. During her hiatus she founded the Vedantic Center commune and established the Sai Anantam Ashram, over which she presided until her death.

Her first four albums were my chief introduction to jazz and remain some of the most treasured music in my collection. She will be missed.