A Tribute to Alice Coltrane


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Hymns and Blues in the Name of Family
Ravi Coltrane at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

One of the revelations of “A Tribute to Alice Coltrane," the JVC Jazz Festival concert on Tuesday night at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, was a short film clip of Ms. Coltrane playing piano in Paris in 1959. She was smiling, running through fast bebop with the drummer Kenny Clarke and the saxophonist Lucky Thompson, and skating through the chord changes.

At the time she was learning from Bud Powell, and her playing showed it. After she moved from Paris back to her hometown, Detroit, and then to New York in 1962, met and married John Coltrane, she was still playing those continuous, blanketing lines on the piano. But they were staying in single chords for much longer, and sounded more like the harp, an instrument she took up as well.

Those long arpeggios remained in Ms. Coltrane's music until her death last year. Tuesday's concert elegantly condensed her family, her interests and some of her better music into two hours.

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