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Alice Coltrane
Kirtan: Turiya Sings


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$60.00 SGD
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After releasing the wondrous Transfiguration in 1978, documenting a live concert with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Reggie Workman, Alice Coltrane retreated from public life to serve as swamini in an ashram she founded in Agoura Hills, California. Though she resurfaced briefly at John Coltrane tribute concerts during the 1990s and released a final album, Translinear Light, in 2004, it was widely thought she had abandoned music for over two decades. However, during that time, she was playing alone and with others for Sunday "kirtans" (services), and she occasionally recorded devotional chants for her followers. In 2017, Luaka Bop released The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda; its music was compiled from four privately pressed (and professionally recorded) cassettes. The first of these was 1982's Turiya Sings, and marked the first recording of her singing voice, accompanied by organ, strings, synths, and in places, minimal sound effects. Commercially unavailable, it has been streaming on YouTube for years. Kirtan: Turiya Sings, issued by Impulse!, presents that album in a startling new context. This rare mix -- unheard even by Ravi Coltrane until he was producing Translinear Light -- presents Alice's prayerful rendition of nine traditional Hindu chants called "bhajans," offered with only her Wurlitzer organ in support.


From the opening moments of "Jagadishwar," Coltrane's dignified worship songs seemingly transcend time. They abundantly reflect an earlier period in her own life when she was still in Detroit playing organ in church for gospel choirs and congregations during the early 1950s. That said, they also wed the millennia-old Hindu prayers to the 20th century African American Church and the blues Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey used in reframing gospel music. A striking example here is "Krishna Krishna"; it drones along a skeletal chord progression as Coltrane's instrumental pulse underscores her subdued, vulnerable, almost unbearably tender chant and suggests a country blues. "Rama Katha" adds depth to that impression while being presented in a slightly more dramatic fashion with a taut delivery. Coltrane's jazz training can't resist slipping in unusual chord voicings amid the Wurlitzer's droning growl -- check out "Hara Siva," where she pairs fleeting elliptical ghost traces of chords under an open-throated, deep blue groan that simultaneously reflects yearning and transcendence. Closer "Prandhana" offers seemingly syncopated organ play as chords melt together, transforming them into new utterances. The Wurlitzer hums, rife with airy pedal action as her voice wavers around the resultant overtones. Kirtan: Turiya Sings is more subdued than the original (perhaps they should have been packaged together), but because of the power in Coltrane's singing, it is also deeper emotionally. Rather than a recording designed to project music for a congregation to respond to collectively, it resonates with the personal primacy of private devotional prayer. In sum, it doesn't displace or replace the original, but adds immeasurably to its meaning and dimension. - All Music

Label: Impulse! – B0033706-01, UMe – B0033706-01

Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Reissue

Country: US

Released: 16 Jul 2021

Genre: Spiritual