The Grandmother of Spiritual Jazz: Alice Coltrane

Alice Coltrane is one of the pioneers of spiritual jazz. While spiritual jazz often goes unnoticed as a jazz subgenere, it is still extremely significant to jazz culture. It is described as a sound that is “fused the intensity of free jazz with motifs from African and Indian music, creating sounds both passionate and tempered, meditative and primal.” Alice Coltrane has made significant contributions to spiritual jazz as a subgenere.

Alice Coletrane, born as Alice McLeod, was a jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer and composer. Coletrane’s passion for music began at the age of nine when playing the organ at her church. She took the best parts of gospel, classical, and jazz and made them her own. She was the wife of John Coltrane, who was another jazz artist that was integral to the creation of the spiritual jazz genre. The husband and wife worked alongside Pharaoh Saunders when creating their music.

One of her most influential albums, Journey in Satchidananda, was created after the death of her husband in 1965.  When mourning the death of her husband , she suffered from weight loss and insomnia. She took to spirituality as a form of solace under guru Swami Satchidananda, hence the name of the album. “the album blends jazz percussion with sitars and Coltrane’s own dazzlingly psychedelic harp playing, as well as Pharoah Sanders’ phenomenal saxophone solos.” The obvious spirituality behind Alice Coletranes music reveals the value of spiritual jazz. With its transcendental quality, this form of jazz allows listeners to dive into the mind and soul of Alice Coletrane. After this album, she remained a prolific jazz musician until her death. Her music has had a great impact on the jazz community, challenging the norms of jazz music.

Sources:

https://www.alicecoletrane.com/life

https://www.realblackgrandmothers.com/in-the-arts-alice-coletrane-the-grandmother-of-spiritual-jazz/

https://www.treblezine.com/34727-10-essential-spiritual-jazz-albums/

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