ALICE COLTRANE – KIRTAN: TURIYA SINGS
Alice Coltrane ist die unbestrittene Patin des spirituellen Jazz der Sechziger und Siebziger Jahre, und auch heute noch erklärter Einfluss auf so diverse Künstler wie Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Solange und Radiohead.
RAVI COLTRANE STEHT FÜR INTERVIEW ZU DEN WIEDERENTDECKTEN AUFNAHMEN SEINER MUTTER ZUR VERFÜGUNG
Mit dem 1982 aufgenommenen, aber jetzt zum ersten Mal in dieser Form und für ein breites Publikum zugänglichen Album „Kirtan: Turiya Sings“, erlebt man eine Alice Coltrane, die die spirituellen Elemente ihrer Musik intensiviert und so erlebbar wie nie gemacht hat. Die Songs des Albums sind Mantras, die ursprünglich nur auf Cassette für Mitglieder ihres Sai Anantam Ashram herausgegeben wurden.
Ravi Coltrane, Sohn der Musikerin und John Coltranes, hat die verloren geglaubten Originalbänder der tief meditativen Aufnahmen für diese reguläre Erstveröffentlichung von damaligen Overdubs befreit und so den Kern der Lieder freigelegt. „Kirtan: Turiya Sings“ präsentiert lediglich Alice Coltranes Orgelspiel und Gesang, und ist trotzdem ein berührendes, überwältigend reiches, eindringliches Werk, das keinen Hörer mit offenem Geist unberührt lassen dürfte.
Though known by many as the musical partner and wife of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane is revered for her groundbreaking contributions to spiritual jazz with her legendary Impulse! recordings Journey in Satchidananda and Ptah, The El Daoud, among others. Throughout the 1970s, in addition to maintaining the busy schedule of a recording and touring artist, Alice Coltrane was immersing herself in Eastern philosophies, mythologies, and Vedic religious practices. By the early 1980s, she had become a guru and spiritual teacher and began to make music exclusively for her community at The Vedantic Center, northwest of Los Angeles.
The original recording of these songs, Turiya Sings, was released exclusively on cassette in 1982 for the students of the ashram. In addition to Alice’s voice and organ, the recording included synthesizers, strings, and sound effects. In 2004, Alice’s son and producer of this record, Ravi Coltrane, found mixes he’d never heard before of just Alice’s voice and her Wurlitzer organ. He knew this is what the world had to hear.
“In this setting I felt the greatest sense of her passion, devotion and exaltation in singing these songs in praise of the Supreme. In that moment, I knew people needed to hear Turiya Sings in this context.” Ravi continues, “as her son, growing up and hearing her playing these songs on the very same Wurlitzer you hear on this recording, I recognize this choice maintains the purity and essence of Alice’s musical and spiritual vision. In many ways, this new clarity brings these chants to an even higher place.”
The opening chords of Kirtan: Turiya Sings are a curtain opening into a realm of spirituality and devotion that only Alice Coltrane could conjure. This album is not jazz–it is not improvised. It is intentional, devotional, and spiritual. This music, sung in Sanskrit, is spacious and large, Alice’s voice has weight and power, her organ playing rock-solid, pulsing, a cauldron of musical influences you can hear from her life.
Ravi Coltrane summarizes the musical importance of this album best: “On this album, your ear will be turned toward the sound of the blues, to gospel, to the Black American church, often combined with the Carnatic singing style of southern India. You will hear beautiful harmonies influenced by Alice’s Detroit/Motown roots, her bebop roots, John Coltrane’s impact, and her absorption of European classical music, particularly that of her favorite: Igor Stravinsky. Yet, at the same time, this is functional music. Its purpose is, with light and love, to praise the names of the Supreme. On this album, your heart and spirit will be turned toward divine inspiration and appreciation.”
Kirtan: Turiya Sings was mixed by Steve Genewick and mastered by Kevin Reeves from original 24-track masters. This is the same team that worked with producer Ravi Coltrane on Alice Coltrane’s last album, 2004’s Translinear Light. The LP lacquers were cut by Ryan D. Smith at Sterling Sound. The album will be available on vinyl, CD, digital download and streaming.
NOTES BY RAVI COLTRANE
In 1981, Alice Coltrane, aka “Turiya”, recorded nine devotional songs and privately released them on cassette tape. This offering of spiritual music was made primarily for the students of her ashram. She entitled the work Turiya Sings. It has this title because it was the first time my mother had actually recorded her own voice – the first time she ever sang in the studio. I remember being 16 at the time hearing it and asking, “Mom, is that you?”
For most of the 1970s, while keeping up the full-time schedule of a recording and touring artist, and raising four children on her own, Alice Coltrane was studying and seeking out spiritual mentors, advisors and gurus. She became more immersed in Eastern philosophies, particularly those from India and their Vedic religious practices, music, and mythologies. She travelled several times a year to India and would often stay for many weeks at a time. She learned many traditional bhajans (devotional songs) and soon began to compose her own songs to be sung in Sanskrit. The English translations were derived from her meditations. My mother would ultimately become a guru and a spiritual teacher herself and form a small community of students under the banner of The Vedantic Center. By 1980, freed from record company obligations, she began to make music exclusively for this community.
The original release of Turiya Sings was a multi-layered orchestration of voice, organ, string arrangements, synthesizers, and even some sound effects. As all of her previous major label albums showcased, my mother always arranged her recordings utilizing a grand musical vision.
While producing her last Impulse release, Translinear Light, I came across some mixes of tracks from Turiya Sings that did not include the overdubbed material and only featured Alice’s voice and her accompaniment on Wurlitzer organ. As dynamic and bold as the original version is, hearing my mother sing and play in this stripped-down, intimate setting revealed the true heart and soul of these songs. In this form, I could hear every nuance and inflection in her vocal performance and feel the weight of her rock-solid pulse and timing and (dare I say it) groove on the Wurlitzer. And, most importantly, in this setting I felt the greatest sense of her passion, devotion, and exaltation in singing these songs in praise of the Supreme.
In that moment, I knew people needed to hear Turiya Sings in this context.
It is always difficult to make a creative decision that is counter to what the artist originally chose for their work. It’s always a delicate matter. But as her son, growing up hearing her play these songs and songs like them every day, on the very same Wurlitzer you hear on this recording, I recognize this choice maintains the purity and essence of Alice’s musical and spiritual vision. In many ways, this new clarity brings these chants to an even higher place. I believe the listener can hear my mother sing and perform and receive these songs in the same way as you would have if you attended a kirtan service she led back in the day. In fact, if you close your eyes and listen – particularly on a good pair of speakers – it’s a very similar experience to being in the room with her and the Wurlitzer.
The music on Kirtan: Turiya Sings is not jazz and there are no improvisations. At their foundation, the compositions have the feeling of the hymns and spirituals my mother, as a teenager, would perform as the organist of her church in Detroit in the mid-1950s. Of course, a few years later she was living in Paris, playing bebop piano in the style of her hero Bud Powell. And a few years later, she was moving past the mainstream and accompanying my father John Coltrane on and off the bandstand, the two exploring the furthest of musical and creative heights and making music in service of the highest power. And a few years later, after the loss of John and a spiritual awakening, she would cultivate a new and unique sonic world of her very own.
By 1981, Alice had her own sound. A definitive musical voice like no other. On this album, your ear will be turned toward the sound of the blues, to gospel, to the Black American church, often combined with the Carnatic singing style of southern India. You will hear beautiful harmonies influenced by Alice’s Detroit/Motown roots, her bebop roots, John Coltrane’s impact, and her absorption of European classical music, particularly that of her favorite: Igor Stravinsky. Yet, at the same time, this is functional music. Its purpose is, with light and love, to praise the names of the Supreme. On this album, your heart and spirit will be turned toward divine inspiration and appreciation.
One of my mother’s students asked me to describe Kirtan: Turiya Sings not as religious music but spiritual music. Functional music that seeks not to project one religion’s doctrines but to promote the universality in all divine music. Read the Sanskrit words. Read my mother’s translations and you’ll find the themes are quite universal. Find a quiet moment, put this album on, sit still and listen. Meditate. Or chant along. Sing along with Turiya and let these ethereal songs elevate your spirit. That is the truest function of this music and Alice Coltrane’s devotional gift to us all.
I invite you all to listen with open ears and an open heart to these blissful and joyous songs.
Ravi Coltrane, 2021
||Jai Ramachandra 6:00
||Krishna Krishna 5:09
||Rama Katha 11:42
||Yamuna Tira Vihari 8:33
||Govindi Hara 5:39
||Hara Siva 6:56
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