Some of you have asked me what I have listened to when this site was in hibernation. Well, I re-discovered some of my “old” records and some songs from artists, who had me their records, has really grown on me and became something like an all-time-favourite. Ok, the list would be very, very long anyway. If you have a large record collection you know what I mean. You go through the piles of records and think ‘oh, that was such a great tune, how come I haven’t heard it for a long while?’ So, if you should come up with a list of your all-time-favourites you’ll end up somewhere in the thousands.
Anyway, here are a few songs I’ve listened to and that now mean a lot to me:
Julie Dexter Walk With Me
Fay Victor: Zootoon
Joanna Pacale: Too Marvelous For Words
Dee Daniels: A Song For My Father
Emma Hutchinson: Altea
Monica Dillon: My Baby
Carmen Lundy: Windmills Of Your Mind
Harvey S.: Momentano/Before
Kipper Jones: Better
Frank McComb: When You Call My Name
Juliet Kelly: Too Late Now
Ledisi: Feeling Orange And Sometimes Blue
Maiuko: Breakdown The Walls (reprise)
Tom & Julie: Like Ours
Fertile Ground: Yellow Daisies
Eventually there was a kind of musical revelation to me: the music of Alice Coltrane.
The odd thing is that the first time I’ve heard a song by Alice Coltrane (A Love Supreme, that appeared on the bonus CD of Red Hot + Cool Stolen Moments) it meant nothing to me then and I was like “mmm that sounds strange, more punishing than rewarding, oh my gosh, the widow wanted to punish her late husband John with this recording and spolied it”. Well, that was in 1994 over ten years ago and I guess you really have to evolve your taste in music before you are able to understand spiritually influenced music like Alice Coltrane has recorded.
Years later I really discovered instrumental jazz through releases by McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Courtney Pine. And it was McCoy Tyner’s Extensions album that re-introduced me to Alice again. I just fell in love with Message From The Nile and I really liked the harp you can hear on it. Looking at the CD showed me that this was Alice Coltrane playing the harp, an instrument used rather seldom on jazz recordings.
The next step was of course lookin for releases by Alice in the records stores in Hamburg/Germany. From her Impulse years there were only a few available over here. So I’ve purchased three of her albums Journey in Satchidananda, Monastic Trio and Ptah, The El Daoud.
I really liked Ptah then (especially Turiya And Ramakrishna and Blue Nile) - and still do it now. Turiya And Ramakrishna is still the most soulful instrumental jazz song I know. But I guess in the meantime I really understand the title song Ptah, The El Daoud.
The real revelation and a great journey into Alice Coltrane though were the albums Huntington Ashram Monastery, Universal Conscousness, Lord Of Lords and most of all World Galaxy. Yes, the album that features her version of A Love Supreme, the musical icon by John Coltrane, that only few people dare to touch. Will Downing did a clever thing with his debut album by adding vocals to the song and turning it into a soul song.
The addition of strings to songs like Galaxy In Turiya or Galaxy In Satchidananda adds real depth, drama and spirituality to the songs and thus makes World Galaxy one of the best jazz albums of all times for me. I would even dare to say that Alice has outdone John with her version of A Love Supreme. After more then ten years (remember 1994?) I finally love this song with the introductory narration by Swami Satchindananda about love and the organ Alice plays throughout the song.
I’ve never been into classical music, but I must admit I like Alice versions of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird. In the liner notes to her Lord Of Lords album there’s an oblique explanation by Alice about The Firebird:
“On March 20, 1972, I was blessed with the good fortune of receiving a visitation from the great master composer, Mr. Igor Stravinsky, whom I had never met before in life. After a warm and intimate discussion on the subject of music, he said: “I wanted you to receive my vote.” I did not fully understand his meaning. He then presented me with a small glass vial containing a clear, colorless liquid. He was seated in a comfortable armchair; he held me close and said, “Daughter, this vial was for your grandmother, but instead, I kept it in reserve for you.” He then asked if I would like elixir, I said yes. As he walked away for it, I began to drink from the vial. To my surprise, it was difficult to swallow. When it was finished, Mr. Stravinsky returned. Since that time, I have kept the album photograph from Mr. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in my room. As opposed to this photograph, he had the appearance of an elderly man, but none of the weariness or age lines shown on this face.
Since that time, it has been incumbent on me to proceed forthrightly into the great master Stravinsky’s works. Divine instruction has been given to me throughout the entire arranging of this music, even down to the smallest detail. Ohnedaruth, when he was John Coltrane, seven years ago, introduced to me the music of, as he termed it, “a Universal musician and composer,” Mr. Igor Stravinsky.”
If you have the time and want to experience great spiritually moving music, that even moves an atheist like me, I recommend that you start with these albums:
Ptah, The El Daoud
Huntington Ashram Monastery
Lord Of Lords
And to close this excursion into the music of Alice Coltrane, here’s a quote a friend of mine once said when I played him some of Alice’s songs “Who needs drugs when you can appreciate this music”
[more infos about Alice on the internet: jazzsupreme.com, silent-watcher.net, theglobalist.com, allmusic.com]