Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alice Coltrane - Translinear Light

Alice Coltrane - "Translinear Light"

Translinear Light was my introduction to Alice Coltrane and is one of the richest and prettiest albums I've heard in years. There's some really far-out stuff on this but the title track has a beautiful, meditative feel to it that just makes all other jazz I've heard over the past ten years sound like shit! I'm not just talking about Spyro Gyra or Kenny G, I'm looking at you, Wynton Marsalis.

I first heard "Translinear Light" on some NPR jazz show. Not the one that's hosted by the guy who sounds like he's 90 years old and likes big band music a lot. I think it was this one, which used to play lots of good great, classic, 60's stuff nearly every night but was forced off the air last year to make way for some radio experiment that's probably never going to get off the ground. Anyway, that was a year or so before she passed away, but how awesome to go out on top like this? I've since heard Journey in Satchidananda and Universal Consciousness and they have their own dark, moody vibe to them that I really enjoy more than anything I've heard so far by her husband.

Translinear Light takes the ideas of those albums and blows them up into a hi-fi mix, where every note is more immediate and the dark atmospheres are illuminated in the warm glow of a brighter and more organic palette of sounds. It's jazz, but anything but the pleasant and background music that jazz had become in 2006. It's spiritual as fuck, but honest and full of conviction in ways that the peddlers of so much new age pablum these days are incapable of understanding. It's a gorgeous, personal trip that should be a timeless classic if anyone cares anymore.

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