Even if her name was still Alice Mcleod, Alice Coltrane’s concert tomorrow night at Hill Auditorium would be a tremendous homecoming. Mrs. Coltrane is a Detroit native, and the honor of a Michigan date on what would be John Coltrane’s 80th birthday (and the equinox), was not bestowed unintentionally.
Alice Coltrane, along with her son, Ravi Coltrane, and two other jazz legends – bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Roy Haynes, will return home to honor her husband and to celebrate her own storied career in another in a string of great sold-out jazz concerts courtesy of UMS (Rush tickets are available today from 9 am. to 5 p.m. at the Michigan Union Ticket office, in person only.) Beginning with Ornette Coleman in 2004 and continuing with Sonny Rollins last year, we’ve been treated to a series of legendary jazz-men who have both given revelatory performances – this one should be no different.
Mrs. Coltrane will play material from John’s vast catalogue, as well as music from her own critically acclaimed Translinear Light, released in 2004, her return to Impulse Records after a 26 year recording hiatus. She will perform on the Wurlitzer organ and piano in one of only three concerts scheduled. A private woman, Mrs. Coltrane lets her impressive discography speak for itself, staying out of the spotlight in recent years.
Highlights abound from throughout her career, with her era on Impulse records proving particularly fruitful – both with her husbands group after McCoy Tyner left, and when she lead her own groups after John’s death in 1967. Journey in Satchidananda, Universal Consciousness, and World Galaxy are all ethereal avant-garde workouts that display not only her Bud Powell-trained chops, but also her deeply spiritual improvising. It ought to go without saying, but Alice Coltrane has had a marvelous career, with her association with possibly the greatest jazzman just being the icing on the cake.
Her band mates aren’t lacking credentials either. Her son, Ravi Coltrane, is the spitting image of his father, though with a tenor tone more similar to Joe Henderson’s.
Charlie Haden is known as one of free jazz’s key figures and arguably greatest bassist on the strength of his work with the aforementioned Ornette Coleman and his own Liberation Music Orchestra.
Rounding out the rhythm section, Roy Haynes has laid down the beat for a stunning list of jazz’s biggest names – from Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis to Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and John Coltrane himself. Basically, he’s played with just about everyone.
This afternoon (free, 3 p.m., fourth floor Rackham Ampitheatre) Mrs. Coltrane and the rest of the group will field questions about the legacy of her husband’s music in the American jazz canon. It’ll to be an excellent primer for a concert featuring some of the most important jazz musicians, paying tribute to one of jazz’s most respected figures and playing some of jazz’s greatest compositions.
Alice Coltrane Quartet
Saturday at 8 p.m.
$10-$80 (Rush tickets available)
At Hill Auditorium