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Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Import, January 12, 1995
Vinyl, May 26, 2017
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Vinyl LP pressing. John Coltrane transformed the inner architecture of jazz, throughout the mid-1950s and 1960s and long after his premature death at age 40 in 1967. No other American musician could be said to be at the spiritual center of the '60s musical universe as Trane influenced Albert Ayler, La Monte Young, Jimi Hendrix and everybody in between. Cosmic Music, originally self-released by Alice Coltrane in 1968 and later issued by Impulse!, features two tracks ("Manifestation" and "Rev. King") by John Coltrane's legendary final quintet that were recorded in San Francisco on February 2nd, 1966 and two more ("Lord Help Me To Be" and "The Sun") from Alice Coltrane's very first session as a bandleader, recorded six months after her husband's passing. Foreshadowing her majestic debut, A Monastic Trio, "Lord Help Me To Be" brings Alice's celestial piano playing and inspired improvisations to the foreground with Sanders, Garrison and drummer Ben Riley rumbling in tow. "The Sun," a meditative ballad with subtle urgency, perfectly closes the album's contemplative circle. As John Coltrane recites on the final track, "May there be peace and love and perfection throughout all creation."
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Top Customer Reviews
Cosmic Music is one of those albums: this was not an album Coltrane conceived-the last one he did was Expression. Rather, ABC combined a few very late 'Trane tracks with material Alice Coltrane recorded in '68
Alice had a whole different approach and you need to check out her early-70s Impulse albums. But for understanding very late John Coltrane, Cosmic Music is informative.
With Rashed Ali replacing Elvin Jones, Coltrane began to play with free time, and his tenor tone actually got sharper. Notes splatter like hand fulls of fast thrown dice, and against Ali's more flexible backdrop, the sound is incredible. He also experiments with bass clarinet here, also in amazingly free settings.
You get the sense listening to this and Expression that Coltrane was retooling his sound but was probing what sound he wanted. He was working from the ground up and had gone so far as to record an album called Interstellar Space, just to see what sax and drums alone would sound like. His use of other reeds here indicates that Coltrane was opening up to new textures, new tastes for the palate.
His new sound was--I feel--in the formative stages in Spring 1967, and not getting to hear it bloom full is tragic--a word too often used but here it fits. Jazz would have been a much different music had Coltrane lived.
Well, at least we have this. The tracks are more than enough, but not nearly enough
The personnel is constant - Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax, piccolo), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Rashied Ali (drums) - with percussionists Ray Appleton (JC) and Ben Riley (AC) providing additional punch to the rhythm section. Recorded in February 1966 in San Francisco, California, Manifestation and Reverend King - tracks one and three, respectively - provide stunning space for John Coltrane and Sanders to excel as one, while taking their spiritual exploration to the mountaintop on the latter. Lord, Help Me To Be is a wonderful venue for Garrison to deliver an incredible performance, while Sanders has a picturesque power on tenor sax as he launches off the subtle piano of Alice Coltrane. Sanders - on piccolo - and Alice Coltrane are a perfect pair on The Sun. The Alice Coltrane numbers were recorded in January 1968 at the home studio in Dix Hills, New York.
Though the album remains out-of-print, it has the potential to become a real gem for collectors if - for example - a future issue includes additional material from the John Coltrane recording session and/or a dusty vault is found to have unreleased cuts from the home session led by Alice Coltrane.