Alice Coltrane’s Songs Of Bliss

Andrew Katzenstein looks at some recently released out-of-print recordings of Alice Coltrane and comments: ‘When the saxophonist John Coltrane was asked in 1966 what he hoped to be later in life, he replied, “I would like to be a saint.” He would be canonized by the African Orthodox Church in the 1980s, but John wasn’t the only holy person in his family. His widow, Alice Coltrane, who had had spiritual inclinations since childhood, took the Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda (which she translated as “the Transcendental Lord’s highest song of bliss”) and donned the saffron robes of a Hindu swami in the late 1970s. An important jazz musician in her own right, Alice Coltrane played piano in her husband’s groups from 1966 until his death the following year.’

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