Sunday, July 16, 2006

Alice Coltrane - Turiya and Ramakrishna

Album - Ptah, The El-Daoud

Recorded - 1970

What's so easy to forget, when listening to the ambient wash of some of Alice's soundscapes, is that her whole being was steeped in the blues. Her pre-Coltrane career included being taught how to play the piano by Bud Powell, no less. So it should not come as a surprise that this track harks back to a whole host of earlier jazz and blues styles while maintaining the forward momentum of her post-Coltrane vision. 'Turiya' was the Hindi name that Alice took, one can only guess who 'Ramakrishna' refers to, but given the feel of the piece i'd not be surprised if it was a reference to John Coltrane.

Although the 'Ptah...' album features the twin tenors of Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson, this track is a trio performance with Alice on piano, Ben Riley on drums and Ron Carter on bass, and in actuality much of it feels like a duet between Alice and Carter, such is the level of intimacy reached by the track. Imagine the Hamlet cigars ad arranged for space jazz trio and you've got a good idea what it's all about.

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