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Monument Eternal: The Music of Alice Coltrane
     

Monument Eternal: The Music of Alice Coltrane

by Franya J. Berkman
 

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Alice Coltrane was a composer, improviser, guru, and widow of John Coltrane. Over the course of her musical life, she synthesized a wide range of musical genres including gospel, rhythm-and-blues, bebop, free jazz, Indian devotional song, and Western art music. Her childhood experiences playing for African-American congregations in Detroit, the ecstatic and

Overview

Alice Coltrane was a composer, improviser, guru, and widow of John Coltrane. Over the course of her musical life, she synthesized a wide range of musical genres including gospel, rhythm-and-blues, bebop, free jazz, Indian devotional song, and Western art music. Her childhood experiences playing for African-American congregations in Detroit, the ecstatic and avant-garde improvisations she performed on the bandstand with her husband John Coltrane, and her religious pilgrimages to India reveal themselves on more than twenty albums of original music for the Impulse and Warner Brothers labels.

In the late 1970s Alice Coltrane became a swami, directing an alternative spiritual community in Southern California. Exploring her transformation from Alice McLeod, Detroit church pianist and bebopper, to guru Swami Turiya Sangitananda, Monument Eternal illuminates her music and, in turn, reveals the exceptional fluidity of American religious practices in the second half of the twentieth century. Most of all, this book celebrates the hybrid music of an exceptional, boundary-crossing African-American artist.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…writing about Alice Coltrane matters—because her music and life bears on major ethnological questions of today concerning hybridity, globalization, and the late-capitalist music culture."—Peter Monaghan, Chronicle of Higher Education

“a compelling portrait of an extraordinary woman…a fascinating and important study.”—Pamela Margels, The WholeNote

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819569257
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
09/23/2010
Series:
Music Culture
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
747,072
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are Saying About This

George Lewis
“Monument Eternal is a fascinating reading of the life and work of Alice Coltrane. This book will be of great value to jazz studies, women’s studies, African American studies, and religious studies, as well as to everyday readers who will be fascinated by this portrait of an innovative artist who discovered new ways of connecting musical and spiritual practices.”
Michael E. Veal
“With an artistic vision that spanned the most archaic spirituals to the farthest-flung reaches of the cosmos, Alice Coltrane was much more than merely the wife of her legendary saxophonist husband. She was one of the most brilliant improvising artists that the 1960s produced, but her eclectic creativity was frequently derided, dismissed, or misunderstood. In this fascinating book, Franya Berkman makes the persuasive case that Alice Coltrane's music reflects a lifelong engagement with the divine element that often transcended the narrow implications of the word "jazz," and is most accurately understood in terms of her ongoing spiritual evolution. Richly contextualized, insightfully theorized, and musically rigorous, this work should contribute to a profound reappraisal of Alice Coltrane's legacy and contribution, of the often-neglected achievements of improvised music in the 1960s and 1970s, and of potent alter-narratives of African-American spirituality.”

Meet the Author

FRANYA BERKMAN is an assistant professor in the Department of Music at Lewis & Clark College.

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