Monday, January 15, 2007

Her Music Was Peace

August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007

Jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, widow of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, died on Friday, January 12th at the West Hills Hospital near Los Angeles, California. She was 69.

Mrs. Coltrane was born Alice Lucille McLeod in Detroit, Michigan August 27, 1937. As a young girl, she studied classical piano and began playing organ in local churches. Bud Powell was one of her early teachers. She played piano with her brother, Ernest Farrow, in several Detroit clubs before moving to New York in the early 1960’s to pursue a career in jazz. There, while playing at Birdland with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, she met John Coltrane. They later married, and she performed in his quartet beginning in 1966 until his death in July of 1967.

Mrs. Coltrane continued her career and was a noted jazz artist and composer throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. She recorded works for piano, organ, and harp as a leader on the albums: Monastic Trio, Ptah the El Daoud, Journey in Satchidananda, and Universal Consciousness. She performed and recorded with Lucky Thompson, Kenny Clarke, Pharoah Sanders, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Jimmy Garrison, Charlie Haden, Roy Haynes, Reggie Workman, Jack DeJohnette, Carlos Santana and many others.

Following a long hiatus from performing, Mrs. Coltrane had recently staged concerts in Paris, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Newark, and San Francisco, appearing with her sons Ravi and Oran. These performances followed the critically acclaimed 2004 release of "Translinear Light," her first studio album in 27 years.

From the beginning, she regarded her music as a part of a greater spiritual journey. This path would eventually lead her to Eastern religious studies. In 1975 she founded an ashram, the Vedantic Center, which later relocated to the Santa Monica Mountains and is currently known as the Sai Anantam Ashram. Alice Coltrane, also known as Swami Turiyasangitananda, led her students in meditation and devotional studies. In 2001 with her daughter Michelle, she founded the John Coltrane Foundation to encourage the advancement of music performances in jazz and to award scholarships to young musicians.

Mrs. Coltrane’s passing was related to respiratory failure. She is survived by her sons Ravi and Oran, her daughter Michelle and five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the Coltrane family asks that you please send donations to the following charities

The John Coltrane Foundation
21777 Ventura Blvd., Suite 253 Woodland Hills CA 91367

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital -

Musicare Foundation 
156 W. 56th St. Suite 1701, New York NY 10019

Habitat for Humanity -

A Public memorial service will be announced at a later date.

(courtesy of DL Media, Jazz Corner).