Speakers Corner Records releases a re-mastered vinyl of a great Alice Coltrane album.
Alice Coltrane – Eternity – Warner Brothers BS 2916 (1975)/Speakers Corner Records (2022) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 36:37 ****1/2:
(Alice Coltrane – organ, harpsichord, electric piano, percussion, arrangements; Terry Harrington – tenor saxophone; Jerome Richardson – soprano saxophone; George Bohannon – trombone; Oscar Brashear – trumpet; Tommy Johnson – tuba; Hubert Laws – flute; Charlie Haden – bass; Ben Riley – drums; Armando Peraza – percussion)
There are instances where Detroit native Alice Coltrane is viewed through her married surname. While she did contribute to her late husband’s transcendental configuration (A Love Supreme), Alice was a trained musician (classical and jazz), and forged her own path to spiritual-driven jazz. From 1967-1978, she released 13 albums as a band leader, with ensembles ranging from a quartet to lush string orchestras. She was proficient on piano, organ and harp, and at one point studied with Bud Powell.
Speakers Corner Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Alice Coltrane’s 1975 Warner Brothers album, Eternity. This is quintessential distillation of modal and avant-jazz. Side A opens with the multi-textured “Spiritual Eternal”. In a unique choice, Coltrane takes lead on a “distorted” Wurlitzer organ as full string and horns build a funky, bluesy resonance. In a stunning 2:48, this diverse, urgent musical statement takes flight. “Wisdom Eye” exudes tranquility with a haunting melody line on harp. The creative gravitas of incorporating a traditional classical instrument into a jazz musing is impressive. Switching back to organ, “Los Caballos” is groove-infused with hypnotic Afro-Cuban polyrhythms. After a minute-and-a-half, the jam picks up tempo, as Coltrane occasionally pushes the tonal boundaries and intensity. At 11:25, it is the longest track on the album, but the arrangement maintains its cohesive structure.
It seems that “Om Supreme” epitomizes the deeper spiritual approach to music. With just an electric piano, this ethereal, moody piece is expressive and has a gospel feel. When the voices are blended in, the feeling becomes otherworldly. It is compelling and understatedly beautiful. In a change-of-pace, “Morning Worship” is more free-form, with a droning quality. There are exotic Middle Eastern motifs and tonality that frame the song. Demonstrating her diverse and finely-honed appreciation for classical music, “Spring Rounds (From Rite Of Spring)” is brilliant. Her innate understanding and ability to interpret Stravinsky is reflected in this complex arrangement. Elements of 20th century classicism, including minimalist instrumentation, with atonal movement and simpler pastoral reflection are interwoven seamlessly. It is an appropriate finale to a distinctly personal musical vision.
This vinyl re-master of Eternity is excellent. The overall sound mix is centered and vibrant, especially the studio-affected organ.
Spring Rounds (From Rite Of Spring).