Coltrane: The Universal Guru

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being.”

John Coltrane

John Coltrane was an innovator, a visionary, a revolutionary and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.  He endlessly redefined his music in search of a universal perfection to unite humanity and transform this world into a place of heaven.

Amid the Jazz revolution of the 1960’s, Coltrane looked to India finding a new guiding light of knowledge and wisdom, which lead him to briefly learn under India’s great sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.  Over the next few years he devoted his life in search of a “multicultural theory of musical transcendence”, inspired directly by the music, philosophy and religion of India.

He believed not only in a universal musical structure which transcended ethnic distinctions, but in being able to harness the mystical language of music itself and Coltrane’s study of Indian music led him to believe that certain sounds and scales could “produce specific emotional meanings”.

“All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws. Then  he can feel he is interpreting them to the best of his ability, and can try to convay that to others.”

“My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep.”

“When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls.”

The meeting of Maestros John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar was the spark that changed music forever, and had Coltrane traveled to study under the mentorship of Ravi Shankar as planned before his untimely death in 1967, just imagine how much closer to the holistic goal of finding a “universal theory of musical transcendence” he would have been.

 

FULL ARTICLE: Looking East: The Spirituality of John Coltrane by Jonathan Kay

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The Guru Consciousness

Over the years living in India I have come to intimately know of the importance of the Guru-Shishya relationship in the pursuit of traditional art and seen its profound effects on my musical Sadhana. As my relation the Guru consciousness has developed inside me, I also have felt a deepening connection to spirituality of Coltrane passionate search for a cosmic and more universal musical expression.

In relation to my studies and experiences in India, I can see how Coltrane embodied the ideals of the Guru and I have continued my search inspired by his path which has taken me into the heart of his later period works. In an attempt to re-imagine these penetrating melodies and themes, I have found an interesting intersection between his music and Indian classical music. Based on the complex form of rendering a traditional Raga which leads to the systematic development of a pervading rasa (mood), I have introduced a creative and chromatic unfolding of the melodic phrases rather than a purely modal harmonic approach of Indian music. As this innovative approach to Indo-Jazz music is the result of my unique experience of living in India and becoming a proficient Raga musician over that past 10 years, I hope you can appreciate and enjoy the journey that has brought me express this music!

 

Coltrane Suite: Brasilia, Dusk-Dawn, Miles Mode, Ascension, Transition

The big stage premiere of this Coltrane Suite at the prestigious Ramakrishna Mission, Gol Park, Kolkata

Coltrane Suite: Living Space, Nature Boy, Afro-Blue

Living Space/India - Featuring Tony Malaby

Nature Boy - Featuring Tony Malaby

From Coltrane to Ragas: Prayer and Meditation Suite

India- Featuring Pandit Subhankar Banerjee

Afro Blue - Featuring Pandit Subhankar Banerjee