As the Summer of Love shriveled and congealed into the psychic sewer of the Me Generation, few were interested in inner journeys that stretched any farther than gazing at the navel. Seers were viewed as suckers, and interest in anything vaguely Eastern degenerated into violently insipid jokes about accents or outsourcing. Free harpist Alice Coltrane, who died in 2007, was one of the few creative individual adult human beings who took the different path — she learned it, knew it and lived it. You could tell where she was coming from with her album titles: 1973's Reflection on Creation and Space (A Five-Year View); 1976's Transfiguration, recorded at UCLA; and Astral Meditations (1999).
In her last Los Angeles appearance — at Royce Hall in 2006 — she premiered Translinear Light, her first album in 26 years. The evening became one of incandescent attention to the rhythms of devotional songs, to which everyone responded with great affection.
This weekend's Alice Coltrane Tribute — co-curated by TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone — features improvisations with Coltrane collaborator and pianist McCoy Tyner, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Dutch free-improv drummer Han Bennink, saxophonist Daniel Carter and harpist Radha Botofasina, as well as Coltrane's great-nephew Flying Lotus.
Malone recently spoke to the Weekly from Paris about the event: “Different things can touch you at different times and different ways. … I think that has definitely been the case for me with her music. I think the first record I heard was Journey in Satchidananda — it's pretty accessible, considering some of the places she was going in her music. There's any number of sounds and live performances that I've heard and that I find to be as amazing as that was when I first heard it.”
Is there any one thing that he'd like people to know about Coltrane?
“I feel like what she was doing with her music was what a lot of people do with music,” Malone says, “but maybe not as conscientiously as she had been doing it, which was to bring light and beauty and truth into the world. It's easy for those aspects of it to get crossed out by plasticity and commercialism. I can't speak for what other people will experience through listening to her music. She can take the listener to other dimensions, and there's an incredible power in her music, but I don't know what other people will get from it. I feel that it's transformative.”
Flying Lotus remembers Coltrane this way: “My experience with her was a spiritual experience and one of love. I rarely got to see the musician and artist, so every time there would be a concert, my mind would be blown back. She was such an incredible spirit with the most intense aura I've ever experienced — a true example of divinity.”
Alice Coltrane tribute, featuring McCoy Tyner, Kyp Malone, Nels Cline, Han Bennink, Daniel Carter, Michael White & Leisei Chen, Radha Botofasina, Flying Lotus and special guests, Sun., Dec. 5, 7 p.m.; Royce Hall, UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Wstwd.; $32.75-$54.25. (310) 825-4401, uclalive.org.