It’s been 24 year since Alice Coltrane last released an album. That’s far too long, but the wait has been well worth it. The name of the album is "Translinear Light" and it’s an absolute thing of beauty, grace and spirituality.
Alice Coltrane, born Alice McLeod, has always connected music with spirituality. When she was seven years old she played piano in the gospel band at her church, and that sense of spirit has remained a part of her musical expression ever since. She carried it with her when she joined her husband’s band, the legendary John Coltrane, in 1965, and together they began to explore some Eastern-influenced pathways to jazz expression. After John’s death in 1967, Alice continued to record and evolve musically, incorporating Hindu religious music into her own unique style and adding the harp and Wurlitzer organ to her arsenal of instruments.Translinear Light
is Alice’s first album since 1980’s Transfiguration
, and she has chosen her band mates well. In addition to James Genus and Charlie Haden on bass, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Jack DeJohnette on drums and one track with the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers, she’s also joined by two of her sons - Ravi on tenor and soprano sax and Oran on alto sax.
They say that music is the universal language, and that is never more evident than on a recording such as this one. Each track seems to speak to the listener, imparting messages of peace and understanding. Whether Alice is playing Wurlitzer organ, piano or synthesizer, the sound produced is one that touches something deep inside. Ravi, who has truly become one of the best saxophonists on the scene today, has a way of playing that while quite different from his father’s, shows that John’s spirit is still very much alive in this music. There are traditional hymns here ("Sita Ram", "Walk With Me", "This Train", "Satya Sai Isha"), several tunes written by Alice ("Translinear Light", "Jagadishwar", "The Hymn", "Blue Nile", "Triloka") and two songs written by John ("Crescent", "Leo"). The duet between Alice and Oran (his only appearance on this recording) on the song "The Hymn", is particularly moving.Translinear Light
is the type of recording that is difficult to write about. It’s the type of recording that each individual needs to experience, first hand, for themselves. Some might label it avant-garde, but if you’re not a fan of avant-garde music, I implore you to ignore the label and judge it for yourself. This is the type of music that has the ability to appeal to a wide cross-section of jazz fans, from the straight-ahead to the more adventurous. Give it a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it.