Jazz Pianist Alice Coltrane Dies At 69

Alice Coltrane by Jeff Dunas
Alice Coltrane, influential jazz musician and wife of late saxophone legend John Coltrane, died Friday January 12 at age 69 of respiratory failure in Los Angeles.

In addition to managing the Coltrane estate and archives since the 1967 death of her husband, Alice was a celebrated pianist and organist best known for her astral compositions and for bringing the harp onto the jazz bandstand.

The following is from

As a child in Detroit, young Alice McLeod studied classical music and participated in the gospel band at church. But her brother, bassist Ernie Farrow, introduced her to jazz early on, and as a teen she became quite taken with bop and its offshoots. In Detroit she played piano on sessions with masters like guitarist Kenny Burrell and saxophonist Lucky Thompson. By the early 1960s she was sharing the bandstand with vibes player Terry Gibbs. It was on tour with Gibbs that she met saxophonist John Coltrane. Their 1966 wedding was the start of a musical union as well. When she replaced pianist McCoy Tyner in the classic Coltrane Quartet there was hubbub in the jazz world. But John Coltrane's music was unfolding further with every passing month — he had begun probing musical motifs from the East. Alice's approach to the piano assisted in extending the music even further.

When her husband died in 1967, Alice continued working with members of his last group, including Garrison, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and drummer Rashied Ali. She began playing the harp, utilizing sitar and tablas in the ensemble, and turning fully to Eastern cultures for inspiration; spiritual and colorful, her music morphed into the soundtrack for prayer. Her talents and trajectory spoke to others.
-By Jim Macnie

Details of a public memorial will be announced in the coming days.

[Published on: 1/15/07]

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NickBoeka Mon 1/15/2007 10:41AM
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If you are unfamiliar with Alice's work, I would point you to:
The Music of Alice Coltrane: Astral Meditations
Universal Consciousness
Journey in Satchidananda w/ Pharoah Sanders

These albums are great collections of works that pushed the boundaries of Avant-Garde Jazz. Truly impressive tonal creations...

k23orchestra Mon 1/15/2007 01:00PM
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The first time I heard Journey in Satchidananda everything in the room stopped. It has such a fresh, unique and hypnotizing sound. The first moments of that slow deliberate upright bass line and the subtle, touching flurry of harp strokes, the second that Pharaoh's entrancing sax creeps slowly out of the abyss of sound, I was sure that I had never nor would ever hear anything quite like that. Alice put out such beautiful and spiritually transcending music. The sound of her soul will resonate eternally.

fydo1974 Mon 1/15/2007 01:00PM
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John Coltrane's "Live at the Village Vanguard Again!" and the 4-Disc "Live in Japan" are also great live albums featuring Alice on piano.

jalew Mon 1/15/2007 01:59PM
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thank you Alice.

..and thank you al. i could not have said it so beautifully.

lovemusicfood star Mon 1/15/2007 02:22PM
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Beautiful musician! Journey to Satchidananda is one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. Thanks Alice!

ganjjjj starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/15/2007 02:29PM
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man thats really sad to hear, she was pretty great on her husband's last albums...

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire Mon 1/15/2007 02:54PM
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Thanks for the music AC.

cliftonhanger420 Mon 1/15/2007 06:16PM
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love John Coltrane, but never really new about Alice. i heard some this morning on npr and they were playing some deep shit of hers. it is to bad she's gone. i'm gonna have to check out stuff. RIP. John died in 65'? or am i wrong?

dragonwithmatches Tue 1/16/2007 09:53AM
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I have to agree with lovemusicfood. Journey into satchiadananda is an incredible piece of music. May you R.I.P. Alice your music will live on...

funkme Tue 1/16/2007 12:29PM
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My heartfelt condolences to the Coltrane family. I recentily had the honor of seeing Alice perform in San Francisco. The First set of that show reminded just why I love Jazz so much. May she rest in Peace.