Alice Coltrane’s Ashram

Music Festival to recreates the Alice Coltrane’s ‘ashram’s vibe’

From the New York Times

Surya Botofasina, 39, a keyboardist who lives in Brooklyn, has fond memories of growing up at the Shanti Anantam Ashram in Agoura, Calif., which was established in 1983 by Alice Coltrane, the jazz pianist, harpist and widow of the saxophone immortal John Coltrane.

Mr. Botofasina’s favorite times were Sundays at 1 p.m., when 40 to 50 participants would crowd into the ashram’s temple and sit on pillows on the floor, with men on the left side of the room, women on the right and elders on chairs against the wall. Students wore white, while on the stage Ms. Coltrane — known to her students as Swamini Turiyasangitananda — wore orange robes so “incredibly bright,” Mr. Botofasina said, “that I felt like I had to hide from it, bright like the sun.”

After a spiritual discourse, Ms. Coltrane would begin to play a massive Hammond organ, cuing the singing of transcendental hymns called bhajans…….

As part of the New York edition of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival, Luaka Bop is presenting two concerts on May 21 in Queens that will try to recreate the ashram’s vibe.

Also Luaka Bop will release “World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda”

…..The newly remastered recordings feature Ms. Coltrane singing for the first time on record, leading a large choir through Eastern-influenced devotional music, with lyrics chanted in Sanskrit but shaped by the African-American church tradition. “That touch of gospel feeling in there never existed with the Hare Krishnas, I can promise you that,” said Baker Bigsby, a Los Angeles audio engineer who worked with Ms. Coltrane for over 30 years. “It’s a little bit of Detroit inserted into this Indian music.”……

seee full article at the New York Post article :

Barry William Hale

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