The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 14, 2007

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2007 08:24:03 -0600
From: mIEKAL aND <dtv@MWT.NET>
Reply-To: Theory and Writing <WRYTING-L@LISTSERV.WVU.EDU>
Subject: Alice Coltrane Dies

Alice Coltrane Dies At 69
Jazz Pianist Was Also A Spiritual Leader
January 14, 2007
Los Angeles Times,0,2553918.story

LOS ANGELES -- Alice Coltrane, the jazz performer and composer who was 
inextricably linked with the adventurous musical improvisations of her late 
husband, the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, has died. She was 69.

Coltrane died Friday at West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles, according to family 
friends. She had been in frail health for some time and died of respiratory 

Though known to many for her contributions to jazz and early new age music, 
Coltrane, a convert to Hinduism, was also a significant spiritual leader and 
founded the Vedantic Center, a spiritual commune now in Agoura, Calif. A guru 
of growing repute, she also served as the swami of the San Fernando Valley's 
first Hindu Temple, in Chatsworth.

For much of the past 40 years, she was also the keeper of her husband's musical 
legacy, managing his archive and estate. Her husband, one of the pivotal 
figures in the history of jazz, died of liver disease on July 17, 1967, at the 
age of 40.

A pianist and organist, Alice Coltrane was noted for her astral compositions 
and for bringing the harp onto the jazz bandstand. Her last performances came 
in the fall, when she participated in an abbreviated tour that included stops 
in New York and San Francisco, playing with her saxophonist son, Ravi.

She was born Alice McLeod in Detroit on Aug. 27, 1937, into a family with deep 
musical roots. Anna, her mother, sang and played piano in the Baptist church 
choir. Alice's brother Ernie Farrow was a bassist who played professionally 
with groups led by saxophonist Yusef Lateef and vibes player Terry Gibbs.

Alice began her musical education at the age of 7, learning classical piano. 
Her early musical career included performances in church groups and as well as 
in top-flight jazz ensembles led by Lateef, guitarist Kenny Burrell and 
saxophonist Lucky Thompson.

After studying jazz piano briefly in Paris, she moved to New York and joined 
Gibbs' quartet.

She met John Coltrane in 1963 while playing an engagement with Gibbs' group at 
Birdland in New York City.

"He saw something in her that was beautiful," Gibbs, who has often taken credit 
for introducing the two, told the Los Angeles Times.

She left Gibbs' band to marry Coltrane and began performing with her husband's 
band in 1965, replacing pianist McCoy Tyner.

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