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Alice Coltrane
Journey in Satchidananda (Acoustic Sounds Series)
Catalogue Number
Release Date
March 31, 2023


Alice Coltrane’s landmark fourth album Journey in Satchidananda is undoubtedly a genre-defining collection of spiritual jazz masterpieces with devoted fans in contemporary music from Kevin Martin / The Bug, Four Tet, Floating Points among many others. Recorded in 1970 and released in '71 as she dove further into her devotional work and life, the album’s compositions sit in between the worlds of free jazz and her later spiritual focus. Alice Coltrane’s piano and harp playing alongside the explorative saxophone work of the legendary Pharaoh Sanders (RIP) is a marvel here, expanding the very language of the genre. She notes herself: "Pharoah's playing on this album sounds transcendental, reflecting on the ancient, sacred sound. I believe that his music is one of the strongest forces of its kind heard in the world today".

Written largely in tribute to the Indian yoga guru and religious teacher Swami Satchidananda who had helped her grieve the loss of her husband John Coltrane earlier in 1967. Journey in Satchidananda begins Coltrane’s fascination with the instrumentation and metre of classical Indian music, marked by the sweeping harmonic drones of the tanpura underpinning much of the album. It flows as a waterfall behind Coltrane’s signature serene glitters of harp running up and down the strings, while bass saunters and saxophone undulates rapidly in between.

‘Stopover Bombay’ is a brief yet riveting conversation between bold bass plucks that set the key and piano chords pirouetting their answers back. Drums wash and march in the background, leading into ‘Something About John Coltrane’, an ode to her late husband presented in complex, grandiose, and elegant arrangements, with dextrous playing from all involved.

The album’s final (and sole live) track brings the journey to an end with a cut from a 1970 performance at The Village Gate, featuring a rearranged line up with Charlie Haden subbing for Cecil McBee on upright and Vishnu Wood joining on the oud, an ancient North African and Middle Eastern string instrument whose trembling strums further widen the scope of this truly jazz classic. The band give each other space here, exploring the gaps where they pause their instruments and absorb before coming back in soaring. That very synergy shared by each player and their impeccable performances under Alice Coltrane’s guidance is part of what makes Journey in Satchidananda an all time essential in the jazz canon and far beyond.

Track List

Side A

  1. Journey In Satchidananda
  2. Shiva-Loka
  3. Stopover Bombay

Side B

  1. Something About John Coltrane
  2. Isis And Osiris (rec. live)

Alice Coltrane


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