New kontributor, Steve Jansen, reviews Translinear Light by Alice Coltrane.
Translinear Light represents Alice Coltrane’s first released LP since Transfiguration, recorded 24 years previous and issued by Warner Brothers in 1978. Mrs. Coltrane, who has dedicated herself to full-time spiritual enlightenment at the California Vendantic Center since the mid-1970’s, continues her blossomed custom of exploring Eastern and Indian musical meditations in Translinear Light. Mrs. Coltrane incorporates these unique sounds into her own personal musical prayer with an all-star cast of musicians; tenor saxophonist and son of the bandleader, Ravi Coltrane, bassist giant Charlie Haden, drumming legend Jack DeJohnette, James Genus (bass), Jeff “Tait” Watts (drums), and youngest son Oran Coltrane (alto saxophone), who makes one appearance on a duet with his mother.
The trademark methodologies of Mrs. Coltrane’s musical style – unpretentious harmonies with abundant amounts of space for calculated melodious improvisation – are augmented in Translinear Light with habitual hymns containing elements of modern New Age vibrations. Traditional hymn Sita Ram (from the 1971 recording Universal Consciousness) commences her contemporary meditation with the inclusion of a pensive and moody Wurlitzer organ. The rumination continues with Walk with Me, a message from the deepest internals of the soul communicated through piano keys marinated in plush champagne.
The latter portion of the album flourishes with the revival of selected Alice and John originals – Blue Nile, Crescent and Leo. Originally performed on Ptah, The El Daoud (1970), Blue Nile is rearranged to fit the musical personalities of the extant quartet. The tune opens up with soft percussion from Watts, allowing Ravi to mellifluously enter on tenor sax. He performs the refrain with tranquil sapience and continues his metamorphosis by playing breathy licks throughout the calculated rendition. The growling bass of James Genus palpitates alongside the piano of Mrs. Coltrane, who captures the essence of the updated adaptation without relinquishing the roots of the archetypal rendering.
Devoted fans of Alice Coltrane may be moderately disappointed with the absence of the signature harp, an instrument that she played with less frequency in the years leading up to her recording hiatus. In place of the pliant strings are melodic piano cords that churn out a soothing reflective meditation. The employment of Wurlitzer organ and electronic synthesizer produces a dissonant effect that speaks of intense lessons in spiritual growth.
Although selected meditations that make up Translinear Light incorporate slivers of New Age mawkish, listeners will respect Mrs. Coltrane’s purity of intention with this multifaceted and prophetic release. Ravi Coltrane, who is also the producer of the album, creates a perfect sound in terms of production value with zero aesthetic pitfalls. Translinear Light is an accomplishment from a master composer, musician and spiritual warrior that can only be achieved through years of Oneness with Self – a sacred commitment that Mrs. Coltrane has been performing with decorum over her 67 years.
Translinear Light 8.7/10. Review by Steve Jansen.
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