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Alice Coltrane (1937-2007)

Alice Coltrane, born Alice McLeod (August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007) was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, composer, and the wife of John Coltrane.

From 1962 to 1963 she played with Terry Gibbs's quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. She replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane's group in 1965. She married Coltrane in 1966, and continued playing with the band until his death in 1967.

After John Coltrane (Sr.)'s death she continued to play with her own groups, moving into more and more meditative music, and later playing with her children. She was one of the few harpists in the history of jazz.

from the Washington Post, October 25, 2006:

Just outside the ashram, a white sign spells out the rules: Women should dress modestly. This is a vegetarian retreat; no meat is allowed on the premises. Neither is alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. Shoes are prohibited inside the buildings, where shrines to Sri Satya Sai Baba abound.

Alice moved west because she says that is what God told her to do. First, to San Francisco in the mid-'70s, establishing a Vedantic center there, and then settling in Southern California in Woodland Hills.

Growing up with Alice as a mother didn't make for a traditional childhood. Her eldest, Michelle, remembers the vegetarian dinners, her mother dressing in the orange clothes of the renunciate who'd taken a vow of celibacy (right after her husband's death), the singing and chanting in their living room.

from essence.com, interview with Alice:

John Coltrane, the musician, we know. But what was he like as a husband and father?
He was an excellent husband, father and obedient son to his mother, Mrs. Alice Coltrane, Sr., who lived in Philadelphia. We lived on Long Island, New York, and he loved to be at home. We always had dinner together whenever possible. I could not cook as well as his mother, but I loved to cook good vegetarian meals for the family, and occasionally bake his favorite apple pie. We spent a lot of time outdoors taking pictures of our children, watching them play and grow. We were so close; he was so very gentle with us. John never once raised his voice at me or the children. He was at peace with himself and didn’t feel he had to use anger to express his feelings. He was fulfilled in his mission in life.

from livescience.com, 16 January 2007:

And last week Alice Coltrane, widow of famed jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and an accomplished avant-garde pianist herself, died at age 69 of respiratory failure.  Founder of a sprawling 48-acre mountain ashram retreat where dozens of students studied ancient Eastern spiritual texts, she was a vegetarian in the Hindu tradition for many decades—as was John Coltrane, who died at age 40 in 1967 from liver cancer. 


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