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Alice Coltrane - 1977 Transcendence



Type of Spiritual Experience


There is every reason to believe Alice was more advanced spiritually than John from hearing pieces like this

A description of the experience

Alice Coltrane - 1977 Transcendence

Vrindavana Sanchara 4:01

Transcendence 6:02

Sivaya 4:49

Ghana Nila 6:27

Bhaja Govindam 4:35

Sri Nrsimha 4:57


Transcendence, a late album, is an album created from various ideas that Alice Coltrane was exploring at the time, rather than conceived as an album in its totality. The eight tracks that make up the disc are all based in Indian themes and spiritual concerns. As such, the instrumentation varies widely across the album, ranging from Alice playing her harp with a string quartet on the stunningly beautiful "Radhe-Shyam" and the title track to her playing organ and/or Fender Rhodes piano with large groups of Indian musicians (some of whom sing), such as on "Sivaya" or "Ghana Nila."

The overall aim is thus not so much a grand musical one, as it is an intensely focused spiritual one, as it is based upon a sacred Vedic text.

"As such, it makes for a challenging but thoroughly engaging listen, wherein moods, modes, ambiences, and densities are offered as meditative spaces for the listener -- check out the gentle yet blessed-out joy in "Vrindavana Sanchara," a solo track where Coltrane plays harp, tamboura, wind chimes, and a tambourine. "

The effect this track creates is one of leaving dissonance as one moves deeper and deeper into something that cannot be identified.

On "Ghana Nila," Alice and her Indian counterparts get 'downright funky' in chanting the names of the Lord. Using a Fender Rhodes, Alice and a chorus begin chanting in a cadence that suggests a Pentecostal Church meeting the Krishna dharma. This track -- and the others that feature this lineup -- keeps the experience of the transcendent rooted in common communal experience, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to sing about God with a shimmering, funky groove for accompaniment.

Ever-forward, brave, and truly visionary, Transcendence is another chapter in a body of work by Ms. Coltrane that may only in the 21st century get the understating and critical acclaim it truly deserves. More importantly, it seems that it may actually be instructive to an entirely new generation of musicians -- a love supreme indeed

The source of the experience

Coltrane, John

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