The world knows legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane well, while his talented wife, Alice Coltrane, remains somewhat of an enigma. Now, just three years after her death in 2007, Monument Eternal, The Music of Alice Coltrane, by Franya Berkman, gives this fascinating, complex woman—a musician and composer in her own right—the in-depth treatment she deserves.
Alice Coltrane recorded over twenty-five jazz albums for Impulse and Warner Brothers labels in the late 1960s and 1970s, working with many of the jazz headliners of the time. She played piano in John Coltrane’s last rhythm section (controversially replacing McCoy Tyner) before her husband’s death in 1967. But her legacy goes beyond jazz.
Her music began to synthesize the spirituals of her youth in Detroit and the Eastern music of Hindu hymns. Her personal spiritual journey led her to found an ashram in southern California in the late 1970s. Coltrane’s childhood experiences playing for the African American congregations in Detroit influenced her later transition into the role of guru Swamini Turiya-sangitananda.
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