Luaka Bop record label releases uncovered Alice Coltrane ashram recordings

Jordannah Elizabeth | 6/15/2017, 12:19 p.m.
The independent world music record label, Luaka Bop, was founded in 1988 by producer and former lead singer of the ...
Alice Coltrane Chuck Stewart

The independent world music record label, Luaka Bop, was founded in 1988 by producer and former lead singer of the iconic New Wave band, The Talking Heads. Earlier this Spring, the NYC-based label was responsible for releasing rare recordings of jazz musician and spiritual leader, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. The new album, “Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda,” is a collection of previously unheard recordings of devotional music, recorded at Coltrane’s ashram located outside of Los Angeles. The 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram still exists today. As we interviewed Coltrane’s protégé, Surya Botofasina, via phone last month, he stood on the soil of the ashram. 

“The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda” is the first compilation of global spiritual music that the label plans to release over time. This first album reveals Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s singing voice for the first time in her recording history. Her throaty soothing voice sounds familiar, but of course, any fan of Coltrane Turiyasangitananda would be confused because she was largely known as an instrumentalist, arranger and composer. The songs are heavily layered and raw and vibrationally disorienting—in a good way. 

Luaka Bop uncovered four cassette tapes of recorded music dating between 1982 and 1995 and teamed up with Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s children to locate the original master tapes, which gave them the ability to re-master the songs for clarity and clear tone. Jazz musician Baker Bigsby had a hand in preparing the songs to be re-mastered. He had been present and supportive during the original recording sessions. 

The album is fascinating, not only in its sound, which is otherworldly, deeply layered and unique, but also because of the history of these songs, which had to be searched for, discovered and cared for so this album could happen. 

“Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda” was released May 5 on Luaka Bop Records. You can buy the album direct from the label’s website: http://luakabop.com/catalog/