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Alice Coltrane: The Carnegie Hall Concert

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Alice Coltrane: The Carnegie Hall Concert
The most perfect of time machines, with no errant destinations and no abrupt landings, The Carnegie Hall Concert transports one to a time when artists took their art seriously, when it was sacrosanct. Alice Coltrane's harp comes on like the siren lure of angels, like a missionary, calling all to stop their labor. It seems to say, "Come to listen, come to wonder, come to rest, don't be afraid."

And Coltrane wasn't, not ever. Here she was with her most trusted kin: Pharoah Sanders on tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, fife, percussion, Archie Shepp on soprano sax and percussion, with bassists Jimmy Garrison and Cecil McBee at Carnegie Hall, February 21, 1971.  Journey in Satchidananda (Impulse, 1971) had just been released, defining the triumph of the widow, the ascension of the spirit into light.

Drawn from the two-track reference mix (the four track masters were inexplicably lost in the unkind passage of time), The Carnegie Hall Concert evolves over the course of the evening at its own pastoral, meditative, gritty and ultimately spiritual pace. With a hard-won grace that they are more than willing to share for the benefit of all, one and all, the ensemble—including drummers Ed Blackwell and Clifford Jarvis, Tulsi on tamboura and Kumar Kramer on harmonium—bear witness to the presence of a higher power.

It is a collective moment of clarity that most humans barely catch a glimpse of as life barrels forward. Mystically, an opening splatter of cymbals sends the expansive "Journey in Satchidananda" out into the uptown mists. Garrison and McBee set the rhythm and a sense of revelation sweeps in. Coltrane's hallucinogenic flourishes open the freedom gate for Sanders and Shepp. It is trance-like and takes the stress away. Kick back, listen and elevate.

On clouds of harp, harmonium and tamboura, "Shiva-Loka" vamps. Coltrane then moves to piano and the roof is ripped open, the big sky beyond. Beyond that are "Africa"and "Leo," two of John Coltrane's most epic of holy masterpieces. The exultant fire purifies the soul. Sanders and Shepp, each on tenor, plead and soar with an all-too-human sound that one gives voice to in moments of vulnerability and triumph. "Leo" doubles down and antes up on that triumph. It is as much an all-out assault on the senses as "Africa" before it. It is Coltrane and her rancorous choir shaking us out of our stupors, shaking us free of expectation, summoning from her heart.

Track Listing

Journey in Satchidananda; Shiva-Loka; Africa; Leo.

Personnel

Pharoah Sanders
saxophone, tenor
Archie Shepp
saxophone, soprano
Jimmy Garrison
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

Alice Coltrane: harp, percussion; Pharoah Sanders: soprano saxophone, flute, fife, percussion; Archie Shepp: soprano saxophone, percussion; Tulsi: tamboura; Kumar Kramer: harmonium.

Album information

Title: The Carnegie Hall Concert | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Impulse! Records


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