Following the death of John Coltrane in 1967, Alice Coltrane (1937-2007) took over her husband’s spiritual quest and musical explorations. Like John Coltrane, she was born and raised as a Christian. Over the years, her continuous spiritual quest led her to embrace Indian and Middle-Eastern philosophies which translated musically into a string of beautiful idiosyncratic jazz fusion albums (mainly on the Impulse! record label) such as Ptah the El Daoud or Journey in Satchidananda between 1968 and 1978.

Alice Coltrane - Journey in Satchidananda (1970)
Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda (1970)

These recordings fostered the emergence of a whole new sub-genre within the free-jazz and avant-garde movement which various critics have labelled either “cosmic”, “transcendental” or “astral jazz”. Inspired by the song form found in Indian classical vocal music, drone instruments like the Indian Tanpura provided the background to free form textures and melodies on the harp and saxophone. With Pharoah Sanders taking over the saxophone duties, Journey in Satchidananda was released in 1970. The lush, contemplative and trance-like sound of the eponymous first track of the album gracefully illustrates this new direction.