Ashley Kahn: A Love Supreme

The Lives and Music of Alice & John Coltrane

Tuesday, September 14 at 6pm

Free Talk, reservations recommended.

This talk is part of A Love Supreme: Celebrating the Legacy of Alice & John Coltrane, a series of concerts curated by Cat Henry.

GRAMMY award-winning music historian Ashley Kahn, author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album and other popular books, delivers a presentation focusing on the lives and music of John and Alice Coltrane. Balancing musical insight with fascinating stories, Kahn will bring their careers into a modern-day perspective—discussing the musical influences and spiritual devotion they shared, even as their music proved so influential, enduring, and vastly different.

When pianist Alice Coltrane—nee McLeod—launched her professional career in 1960, moving from Detroit to Paris, jazz was primarily a man’s game; in many ways, it still is. Before that decade was over, she married the leading saxophonist of the day, then became mother to four children, a widow, a multi-instrumentalist (adding harp and organ to her repertoire) and a recording artist who fused jazz and church music with Indian ragas and devotional songs. By the 1970s, even as she pursued her role as parental and recording artist, she established a Vedic ashram in southern California and became spiritual leader to a flock of devotees. Kahn’s discussion will deal directly with how best to understand and fully appreciate this remarkable African American woman, and her continuing influence on so many musicians today.

More than 50 years after his death at the age of 40, John Coltrane is still one of the most celebrated musical heroes of the 20th Century. His sound is often imitated, and today stands for the ideals of musical freedom, personal expression, and spiritual priority. Yet, the theme and significance of what Coltrane sought to convey through his music, especially in his 1964 four-part suite A Love Supreme, is more celebrated than understood. How did Coltrane weave his spiritual focus into his music? What was his message, and why does it remain relevant, along with his music, today?