Alice Coltrane: Carnegie Hall '71

Chris May By

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Alice Coltrane: Carnegie Hall '71
Welcome to the Alice Coltrane Kollectors' Korner. Before entering, discard any nagging ethical concerns about bootlegs and pirated recordings. Call them "unofficial releases" instead. Embrace your inner completist.

2019 has been a good year for members of ACKK. First we had Alice Coltrane Live At The Berkeley Community Theater 1972 (BCT, 2019). The album features Coltrane fronting a percussion-focused, horn-free sextet on harp, acoustic piano and Wurlitzer organ. She performs one of her own tunes ("Journey In Satchidananda") and three others written by or associated with John Coltrane ("A Love Supreme," "My Favorite Things," "Leo"). During the performance, she rubbishes the canard that she was a wafty, away-with-the-fairies musician. At Berkeley she was as fierce and passionate on the Wurlitzer as her husband ever was on the tenor saxophone.

Coltrane kicks out the jams on Carnegie Hall '71, too, this time fronting a nonet which features saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp, bassists Cecil McBee and Jimmy Garrison, drummers Clifford Jarvis and Ed Blackwell, harmonium player Kumar Kramer and tambourist Tulsi. The occasion was a benefit concert for Swami Satchidananda's Integral Yoga Institute. Also on the bill were Laura Nyro and the New Rascals. The Alice Coltrane All-Stars played just one tune, John Coltrane's "Africa," which clocks in a shade shy of thirty minutes.

The performance has much of the ferocity of the original recording, Africa / Brass (Impulse, 1961). None of the All-Stars were present at the two sessions from which that album was compiled, but that is of no matter, because everyone is on-message. More importantly, there are no brass players. Africa / Brass had ten on the first session, eight on the second. Crank it up as much as they do, Sanders and Shepp cannot match the massed intensity of the original frontline or, most particularly, replicate the primal, otherworldly vibe produced by the French horns, tuba and euphonium.

The tape from which Hi Hat pressed the disc originated, presumably, from either radio station WQXR-FM, who broadcast the gig, or from the mixing desk at Carnegie Hall. But, hey, as noted, this is the ACKK. It is all good.

Track Listing



Alice Coltrane: piano, harp; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, fife, percussion; Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, percussion; Cecil McBee: bass; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Clifford Jarvis: drums; Ed Blackwell: drums; Kumar Kramer: harmonium; Tulsi: tamboura.

Album information

Title: Carnegie Hall '71 | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Hi Hat

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