02. Lord Help Me To Be
03. Rev. King
04. The Sun
Bass – Jimmy Garrison
Drums – Ben Riley, Rashied Ali, Ray Appleton
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Pharoah Sanders
Piano – Alice Coltrane
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet – John Coltrane
Tracks 1 and 3 are John Coltrane's last recordings from 1966 and then tracks 2 and 4 are Alice Coltrane's from 1968.
This is the purple cover edition of the privately pressed release by Alice Coltrane.
Born and raised in the religious family of Solon and Anne McLeod in Detroit, Michigan, Alice McLeod (August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007) became interested in music and began her study of the piano at the age of 7. She consistently and diligently practiced and studied classical music. Subsequently, she enrolled in a more advanced study of the music of Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
Alice: ‘Classical music for me, was an extensive, technical study for many years. At that time, I discovered it to be a truly profound music with a highly intellectual ambiance. The classical artist must respectfully recreate the composer’s meaning. Although, with jazz music, you are allowed to develop your own creativity, improvisation and expression. This greatly inspires me.’
With a scholarship to the Detroit Institute of Technology, her musical achievements began to echo throughout the city, to the extent that she played in many music halls and churches, for various occasions as weddings, funerals, and religious programs. Her skills and abilities were highly enhanced when she began playing piano and organ for the (gospel) junior and senior choirs at her church.
But her brother, bassist Ernie Farrow, introduced her to jazz early on, and as a teen she became quite taken with bop and its offshoots. In Detroit she played piano on sessions with masters like guitarist Kenny Burrell and saxophonist Lucky Thompson. By the early 60’s she was sharing the bandstand with vibes player Terry Gibbs, it was on tour with Gibbs that she met saxophonist John Coltrane.
Their 1965 wedding was the start of a musical union as well. When she replaced pianist McCoy Tyner in the classic Coltrane Quartet there was hubbub in the jazz world. But John Coltrane’s music was unfolding further with every passing month, he had begun probing musical motifs and deep inspiration from the East.
When her husband died in 1967, Alice continued working with members of his last group, including Garrison, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and drummer Rashied Ali. She began playing the harp, utilizing sitar and tablas in the ensemble, and turning fully to Eastern cultures for inspiration. Spiritual and colorful, her music morphed into the soundtrack for prayer and meditative techniques.
John Coltrane transformed the inner architecture of jazz throughout the mid-1950s and 1960s and long after his premature death at age 40 in 1967. No other American musician could be said to be at the spiritual center of the '60s musical universe as Trane influenced Albert Ayler, La Monte Young, Jimi Hendrix and everybody in between.
Cosmic Music, originally self-released by Alice Coltrane in 1968 and later issued by Impulse!, features two tracks ("Manifestation" and "Rev. King") by John Coltrane's legendary final quintet that were recorded in San Francisco on February 2nd, 1966 and two more ("Lord Help Me To Be" and "The Sun") from Alice Coltrane's very first session as a bandleader, recorded six months after her husband's passing.
"Manifestation" opens with the group already in mid-flight: Trane's fierce tenor leads the way with Pharoah Sanders' blistering sax and Alice's powerful chords hearing his call. On "Rev. King," Trane introduces a lyrical theme and then the composition erupts into fiery incantations, while Jimmy Garrison's bass throbs alongside the propulsive, gravity-defying drumming of Rashied Ali.
Foreshadowing her majestic debut, A Monastic Trio, "Lord Help Me To Be" brings Alice's celestial piano playing and inspired improvisations to the foreground with Sanders, Garrison and drummer Ben Riley rumbling in tow. "The Sun," a meditative ballad with subtle urgency, perfectly closes the album's contemplative circle.
As John Coltrane recites on the final track, "May there be peace and love and perfection throughout all creation."