Following John Coltrane‘s death from liver cancer, Alice Coltrane suffered from hallucinations and severe weight loss. During this time, she sought spiritual guidance from Swami Satchidinanda to overcome these “tapas.” By 1983, she had established the 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram outside Los Angeles. Here, Coltrane began releasing music within the ashram. Between 1982 and 1995, Coltrane, also known as Turiyasangitananda, self-released four cassette albums exclusively to her spiritual community.
On Friday, May 5th, Luaka Bop made eight of these songs available to the public for the first time. ‘World Spirituality Classics 1,’ the first in a series of compilations from Luaka Bop, is notable for a few reasons. Musically, the compilation presents a fusion of Detroit gospel songs and Indian devotional chants, a style which Coltrane invented. Additionally, the record finds Coltrane singing for the first time (in Sanskrit) in her recorded catalog. Finally, the double-vinyl edition features the previously unreleased ‘Rama Katha,’ which was originally recorded during the 1982 ‘Turiya Sings’ sessions. After working with Coltrane’s “children to find the original master tapes,” Luaka Bop had Baker Bigsby digitally re-master the songs.
Comprehensive liner notes written by GRAMMY-winning music historian Ashley Kahn and interviews conducted by Mark “Frosty” McNeill accompany the collection. Overall, the record, which “showcases a diverse array of…eastern percussion, synthesizer, organs and strings,” serves as an essential addition to any Coltrane fanatic. As Coltrane’s granddaughter Turiya Coltrane shares in the album’s promotional video, these songs represent her most obscure body of work. More importantly, they provide the clearest glimpse into Turiyasangitananda’s soul. Ten years after her passing in 2007, Luaka Bop celebrates what would have been Alice Coltrane’s 80th birthday year with this deeply spiritual compilation. Celebrations for Coltrane occur “at events throughout the United States, Europe, and South America in the coming year.”