Classic Album of the Week: Alice Coltrane-Journey in Satchidananda

The year 1959 is one of the many years in music deemed “the year that started it all” or “the best year in ___.”  In the jazz realm, artists like Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Dave Brubeck, and Charles Mingus all released earth shattering material that would drive musical ideology for the next decade.  In a very broad sense these albums were tied together by a push to extend the possibilities of jazz within a traditional aesthetic.  Brubeck wanted to play in new time signatures, whereas Davis and Coleman wanted to see how far their ensembles could go with improvisation.

Although the 1970s weren’t necessarily heralded in by an equally inspiring year, the inclination to add new instruments and fuse new genres seemed to take over.  On Journey in Satchidananda, Alice Coltrane truly came into her own and found a way to complement her use of harp.  Iconic bass lines, and modal vamps form the basis for huge swaths of improvisation from Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders.  Tanpura supplied by Indian Musician Tulsi–along with occassional use of oud–ties in the use of harp in a way that Coltrane had never done.  It’s an album that showcased the remarkable talents of the instrumentalists at hand and pushed the genre into uncharted territory.


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