Song Of The Underground Railroad – 1987

Alice Coltrane

 A passionate performance by Coltrane with an all-star quartet

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Alice Coltrane (1937-2007) was originally a bebop-oriented pianist who worked with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs during 1962-63.

After meeting John Coltrane, they were married and in 1965 she joined his new quintet on piano.

While she learned the harp, she did not start playing it in public until after John Coltrane’s death in 1967, releasing a series of albums on both instruments during 1967-78.

Alice Coltrane became very involved with Eastern religion and was largely retired from making public appearances until 2006 when she briefly returned, leading a group with her son Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano.

This film clip documents a rare public appearance in 1987 at a jazz festival in Poland.

The music includes “Song Of The Underground Railroad” and parts of “Wise One,” “Africa,” and “Leo.”

Alice Coltrane is joined by her son Ravi, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Roy Haynes, showing that her piano playing was still very much in its prime.

Each of the musicians have opportunities to solo along the way with 22-year old Ravi Coltrane showing a great deal of promise.

-Scott Yanow


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