Alice Coltrane


Impulse, 1970

“I hope that this album will be a form of meditation and a spiritual awakening for those who listen with their inner ear.” -Alice Coltrane, in album’s liner notes.

The deep reverence begins with the bass, introducing the entire album with a kind of blues march, a questing noir-ish figure, something you’d hear a detective’s monologue over, a sort of dilation of the mind taking root, then sweeps in the searching sitar, and the melodic celestial twinkling of the harp, visions from Coltrane’s fingers plucked out of the aether, as natural as the formations of birds migrating, and then Pharoah Sanders in a restrained elegiac mode, intuiting what the piece calls for, a primordial moaning prayer, a meditation, sublime beauty.

I realize that in my descriptions of many of these impactful records I may use the word ‘beauty’ often so that perhaps the intent has lost some resonance but one need only listen to the first title track here to understand the unequivocal meaning of my usage, there is something eternal and universal here, the kind of radiant effervescence that a cool drink of water gives after a long walk on a hot day, something necessarily quenching, that feeling when you’re sore from physical toil and some loved one affectionately massages the offending muscles, the realization you didn’t know you absolutely needed something.

This is one of those albums that leaves its imprimatur on the ear-heart, it changes the colors of the world around you after you experience it, you can no longer abide by narrow visions, western hegemony be damned, the world is not two hemispheres, spherical,  it is truly a ‘world music,’ no, a cosmic music, something reaching far beyond terrestrial, even beyond dimensional, in-between like a phantom limb, introducing you to origins and ends simultaneously joined, full of breaking and rebirth, Rashied Ali on the drums and Majid Shabazz on bells and tambourine, circulating frames of percussion on the ephemeral, how this is done seems nothing short of a miracle and it must be heard to be believed. This is not bullshit hippy shit, this has an ambition and reach that only the far-seeing prophetic acolytes of unadorned humanity could ever even hope to produce. A truly unique album and listening experience. Essential.

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