Photo courtesy Impulse Records.
Jazz genius Alice Coltrane
was born Alice McLeod in Detroit in 1937. She grew up on the east side; her family was deeply religious and highly musical. They directed the choirs at the Mount Olive Baptist Church, where Alice also performed piano and sang.
As a teenager, she studied music at Cass Tech, where a teacher named Velma Froude
introduced her to the harp — an instrument that remained a very important part of her music throughout her career. Unlike fellow Detroiter Dorothy Ashby, who also studied harp with Froude, it wasn't her only instrument, as she continued to also play piano and vibraphone.
Thanks in part to a spate of recent reissues
, music fans increasingly view her music as possessing the same magical, spiritual power as that of her husband, John, with whom she collaborated on recordings and in concert.
We were reminded of how forward-thinking Alice Coltrane's music remains by Britt Robson's thoroughly researched piece celebrating her music
, published at the Red Bull Music Academy site today. It's what we call a "long read" these days.
It's strange that some of the best music writing in the last few years has been funded by such an interesting-tasting
energy beverage. But the world is weird now, and the Red Bull folks keep surprising us with quality work. And we can think of worse corporate bosses to have; who doesn't like sugar, caffeine, and bubbles?