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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Alice Coltrane, Ascending

John Coltrane's wife was a musician in her own right. What artistic path did she take after her husband passed away in 1967?

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Extension: Alice Coltrane saw her late 1960s and 1970s albums as a continuation of her husband's musical work.

Alice Coltrane grew up as Alice McLeod in the thriving Detroit jazz scene of the 1940s and 1950s and first gained notice in the jazz world through her work with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. In 1963 she met the tenor saxophonist John Coltrane while Coltrane and Gibbs’ groups were sharing a bill at Birdland in New York City; eventually they would marry and have three children. When Coltrane died at the age of 40 in 1967, his widow suddenly found herself not only as the guardian of a significant musical legacy, but also as an artist who wished to extend what she saw as the mission of her husband: music that was informed by spiritual or cosmic principles. She made a series of albums for the Impulse and Warner labels over the next 10 years that ultimately led to her own musical legacy. In this program we hear selections from Ptah the El Daoud, Journey in Satchidananda, A Monastic Trio, and more. Alice Coltrane passed away on January 12, 2007.

Music Heard On This Episode

Oh Allah
Alice Coltrane — Universal Consciousness (Impulse, 1971)
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Oh Allah
Alice Coltrane — Universal Consciousness (Impulse, 1971)

Notes: Ornette Coleman contributed to the string arrangement.

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Bei Mir Bist du Schon
Terry Gibbs — Jewish Melodies in Jazztime (Mercury, 1963)

Notes: With Alice Coltrane (credited as Alice Hagood) on piano.

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The Sun
Alice Coltrane — A Monastic Trio (Impulse, 1968)

Notes: John Coltrane's voice is heard at the beginning of this track.

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Blue Nile
Alice Coltrane — Ptah the El Daoud (Impulse, 1970)

Notes: With Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders on alto flute.

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Journey in Satchidananda
Alice Coltrane — Journey in Satchidananda (Impulse, 1970)

Notes: With Pharoah Sanders on soprano sax.

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Turiya and Ramakrishna
Alice Coltrane — Ptah the El Daoud (Impulse, 1970)

Notes: midpoint music bed.

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One for the Father
Alice Coltrane — Transfiguration (Warner Bros., 1978)

Notes: With Reggie Workman on bass and Roy Haynes on drums.

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Ptah the El Daoud
Alice Coltrane — Ptah the El Daoud (Impulse, 1970)

Notes: With Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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