On the reissue of Coltrane's wildly eclectic Eternity, which originally brought her from Impulse! to Warner Bros in 1975, two tunes are lush horn-and-string-orchestra settings; two are meditative, Eastern-sounding pieces; the album is rounded off by her first use of vocals (on '0m Supreme'), and the percussion-heavy, rumba-esque 'Los Caballos'. All the tracks feature spiritual annotation and explanation. The legendary Charlie Hayden plays bass. Remastered and packaged in a digipak. Currently out-of-print in the U.S.
Alice Coltrane never had an easy time of it with critics. That she was able to pursue her rugged musical vision in the midst of controversy (many claimed she was "the Yoko Ono of the John Coltrane Quartet," in that she replaced McCoy Tyner when Trane decided to shift the focus of his band) is, in retrospect, a heroic act, though, humble as she is, she would never see it that way. This double-LP live set recorded at UCLA in 1978, reveals in total the ambitious and profound free jazz and universal musical frontiers Ms. Coltrane was able to explore in both small and larger groups.
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s devotion to spirituality was the central purpose of the final four decades of her life, an often-overlooked awakening that largely took shape during her four-year marriage to John Coltrane and after his 1967 death. By 1983, Alice had established the 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram outside of Los Angeles. She quietly began recording music from the ashram, releasing it within her spiritual community in the form of private press cassette tapes. On May 5, Luaka Bop will release the first-ever compilation of recordings from this period, making these songs available to the wider public for the first time. Entitled ‘World Spirituality Classics, Volume 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda,’ the release is the first installment in a planned series of spiritual music from around the globe; curated, compiled and distributed by Luaka Bop.
The two Impulse albums by Alice Coltrane presented on this single CD are actually the bookends of a trilogy, representing the artist's final recordings for the label. Universal Consciousness was recorded in three sessions in 1971 and released in 1972, and Lord of Lords, recorded in a single 1972 session, was released in 1973. The album between them is World Galaxy. Universal Consciousness utilized a small string section to augment its trio and quartet settings; by contrast, Lord of Lords emulated its immediate predecessor (World Galaxy) in employing a 16- piece string section behind the trio of Coltrane, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Ben Riley.
This is Alice Coltrane's first album as a leader, made a year after her husband's death. Even though you can tell that she was still developing her own style at this point, it is still a great record. The first 3 songs are especially good, I think; this is probably because of the additon of Pharoah Sanders. Alice is great with a trio, but she had incredible chemistry with Pharoah.
"Lord, Help Me To Be" is just classic. I really like Jimmy Garrison's bass playing on this one. He may not have been as technically developed as other bass players of his time, but he could really swing, which is something that other bass players sometimes lacked. "The Sun" is wonderful, too. It is basically a 4 minute Alice Coltrane solo in free rhythm, colored by bells and sparse bass. Although Pharoah is listed here, he is barely audible, playing flute in the left channel. The drums are very quiet as well. "Ohnedaruth" is a chant that the last John Coltrane group used to perform. It features a rare Pharoah Sanders solo on bass clarinet!
Lord of Lords, released in 1972, was Alice Coltrane's final album for Impulse! It was the final part of a trilogy that began with Universal Consciousness and continued with the expansive World Galaxy. Like its immediate predecessors, the album features a 16-piece string orchestra that Coltrane arranged and conducted, fronted by a trio in which she plays piano, Wurlitzer organ, harp, and timpani with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Ben Riley. Riley was familiar with the setting because he had been part of the sessions for World Galaxy. The first two pieces, "Andromeda's Suffering" and "Sri Rama Ohnedaruth" (titled after the spiritual name for her late husband, John Coltrane), are, in essence, classical works. There is little improvisation except on the piano underneath the wall of strings. They are scored for large tone clusters and minor-key drone effects, but also engage in creating timbral overtones.
Universal Consciousness was the fifth solo album released by Alice Coltrane in 1971 on Impulse! Records. The Allmusic review by Thom Jurek awarded the album 4½ stars saying "This is art of the highest order, conceived by a brilliant mind, poetically presented in exquisite collaboration by divinely inspired musicians and humbly offered as a gift to listeners. It is a true masterpiece".