Journey in Satchidananda
Saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac - great imagery from Eagles’ Don Henley - open roads, blue skies, supplanting idealism with the trappings of wealth…
“California dreaming on such a winter's day”, yeah lots of us have had those dreams, (I was more of a Savannah, Georgia man, myself), but hey, the images are a sheer evocation of those daydreams we’ll have, sat in a cold flat, double glazing suppressing the traffic’s honks and siren blares and street shouts.
Bumper stickers, never really noticed them here, nor even Stateside. On my few visits, I have usually been too busy being ‘shocked and awed’ by the sheer scale of US cities, but occasionally one catches the eye, and brings a smile or intrigue. Recently saw, not a sticker, but second best thing, sticker photo and an explanation. GQ published the explanation for this sticker.. .“Keep Honking! I’m listening to Alice Coltrane, 1971 Meteronic sensation ‘Universal Consciousness’ ". An occasional jazz head, this sent my curiosity levels catastrophic, WTF!! Alice Coltrane a car bumper phenomenon? Almost as good as an internet viral meme, still old-school cool for ‘old’ artist promotion, or so I thought.
Read the GQ piece by Gabriella Paiella, and the inspiration, sticker supplier Chris DeLoach. It spread through instagram @inzane_jonny, and through a retail outlet, Dale’s Zine shop. I’d gotten CDs with Alice playing on her husband, John Coltrane’s records, and on a Carlos Santana solo album. I resolved I need some solo material, sort it.
A couple of days of later, I was in HMV Music, UK’s only remaining national CD chain, looking for a CD by The Cure (don’t ask), and discovered that genre’s gone, the genre is no longer a thing in HMV, artists are alphabetic order. Near The Cure, racked to the left was 'Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda', too good an opportunity to miss, Jazz this good, rare as hen’s teeth in Sunderland. Not the Universal consciousness CD, but beggars…
Satchidananda, wot a great slice of mystical transcendentalism, forget George Harrison’s aural doodlings, this is the real McCoy, transcendental, transcontinental, transformational. Sprinkled with some of my absolute favourite jazz players, Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, and Alice herself of course. There’s a serene beauty across the opening tracks, dappled water, doves on the wing, jasmine in the air, and that lazy sense of contentment, as Pharoah’s sax swops, sways, a soaring eagle, then teasing kite. Alice’s harp, butterflies on the lilies, and tumbling wall flowers, all add to a sense of another time, maybe even another world. Alice’s music hints at, if not a paradise, then damned close a sense of what’s possible.
This is more than music to relax to, it’s sounds and sensory ecstasy, that you can’t BUT relax to, even in the funky second track, ‘Shiva-loke’ you dance in your head, and float on your feet. This is music for those wee, wee, small hours, a sip of wine, glass un-drunk, nibbles untouched, spread the love, feed the birds at sunrise.
Stinging like a butterfly, senses enlivened and restlessness stilled. Not so much, calm before a storm, but the inner calm, facing an outer storm. This is music to thrive in. Stopover Bombay whets the appetite for eastern delights, colour pastels, in a setting sun. A river calmed, as it too has gotten the vibe, relaxed into its own easy flow, nurturing fishes, giving life, asking mournfully that it be respected, and treasured for what it will be.
Husband John gets a dedication, ‘Something about John Coltrane’ is a tender romantic repetition and themes that are his motif, as Alice swoops and swirls through the maze of notes, ideas, and memories we all felt for the Jazz master. This is music that lulls and caresses and then wakes with occasional nudges and breath blown on eyelids, that revive. But only so that you slide effortlessly, into the comfort of the next teasing flurry of snowflake notes, floating on the gentlest of zephyr breezes.
Isis and Orisis close the set, more intensity and sense of movement, onto the next astral plain. Fertility and death, celebrated in the last number. The same sense of these, both essential parts of life, both on the same path, twins, but neither of this world, nor the world next to it, but somewhere else where we can dream, imagine, believe, pray and exist.
All these tunes are a calm summer’s day in your heart, autumn colours in your head, winter in your brain, and spring in your soul. Yeah this is Trancen-ing music, that’s detrimental to the naysayers. Feel your journey, feel alive in the moment, in an unmeasurable time. And whatever the steps, miles, and distance, listening to Alice Coltrane, realise it’s better to travel, than to arrive.