Cultural Percussionist

Alice Coltrane Day

Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz musician and composer, and in her later years a swamini. One of the few harpists in the history of jazz, she recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels. She was the second wife of jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane.

Alice McLeod was born on August 27, 1937, in Alabama, and grew up in a musical household in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother, Anna McLeod, was a member of the choir at her church, and her half brother, Ernest Farrow, was a notable jazz bassist. With the motivation of Ernest, Alice pursued music and started to perform in various clubs around Detroit, until moving to Paris in the late 1950s. Alice studied classical music, and also jazz with Bud Powell in Paris, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Jazz Club in 1960. It was there that she was broadcast on French television in a performance with Lucky Thompson, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. She married Kenny “Pancho” Hagood in 1960 and had a daughter with him. The marriage ended soon after, on account of Hagood’s developing heroin addiction, and Alice was forced to move back to Detroit with her daughter. She continued playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard. In 1962–63 she played with Terry Gibbs‘ quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. In 1965 they were married in Juárez, Mexico. John Coltrane became stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michelle, and the couple had three children together: John Jr. (1964–1982, a drummer); Ravi (b. 1965, a saxophonist); and Oranyan (b. 1967, a DJ). Oranyan later played saxophone with Santanafor a period of time.

In January 1966, Alice Coltrane replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group

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