The Unison. Matt Lavelle.


Sign in to view read count

I'm not an expert on Alice Coltrane and her music,.but I do know that her music has reached out to me in the last few years,and acted as a guide in some way about how to process the relationship of spirit to music.Her music after Trane made the transition fascinates me,and I intend to listen to all of it at some point.That's the kind of box set we need these days if you ask me.Musing on the relationship I have formed with her music opens up a whole other door about the way men and woman relate to music differently.This to,.is something I'm not an expert on,.and some would argue that there is no difference in the way men and woman relate to music,.that were both human beings so there really are no differences.This is what led to one of my assignments,given to me by Ornette Coleman,.in an attempt to further understand this spiritual musical relationship inside myself,and also to broaden the sense of my relationship to the world,.and also to see just how incredible it is that the creator can cause SO much to happen with one simple act,..separate us as men and woman.

“Form a band comprised of all woman,.play some concerts,.and then report back and tell me what you've learned."

At least half of the time I have spent talking to OC has not been not about music,.but about woman,and what happens when we get together.He speaks of them in a reverential tone,.with him usually ending by speaking about his mother.("I know who you are,."she would have to tell the young Ornette over and over) Deep love and respect for our mother's is common ground for us.Woman seem to simply gravitate closer to their emotional center,for better or for worse,.and emotional expression is another thing both OC and myself believe to be paramount.Ornette is really something in that his intellectual process IS emotional,.more than any other musician I've played with,.and it's really a super-natural type of experience.The emotional search for new ideas is something that happens to him in real time,.and since he FEELS so strongly about ideas,.his Pieces sensitivity thing is just played out to the extreme.His dynamic sensitivity has really gotten to me more than anything:whispering in somebody's ear has a lot more impact at times than shouting in their face,.(although we all need to get our shout on now and then.)

Back to ALICE.I really believe she extended her husbands music and used it as a template to explore even further down the path that Trane had to follow at a higher vibration.I believe they stayed in contact,.bonded on another level through music and creating a family together.What if they never got together? What would Alice's music be like then? What if Trane never met Miles? Fact is that some relationships are just meant to be as part of that master plan I'd say.I never got to meet and talk with Alice,.a major regret.Her return to music a year before her own transition has me shook.As spiritual as she was,.was she aware that her transition was coming and that her and her music had to say goodbye to the world as we know it? When you go as deep as she did in music and spirituality,.I believe that level of access to life is possible.I've had experiences with powerful spiritual people that defy explanation,.since they are no longer with us.

Or are they?

Listening to Alice's song,.Journey in Satchidananda,.hundred's of times,.led me to play the song in every key and direction during a music event with Charles Downs,(myself on trumpet),that had me so open that my own Sun in the third house was given a chance to be itself,.and Alice started talking to me right there,.as Charles took over on drums,.like a big WAVE washing over me.Playing her music with as much intent as I was reached out and called to her across the space-ways.

“I LIKE you Matt....I have followed your musical journey,.and I'm here to tell you to KEEP.GOING.You Have something to say! Your contribution is VITAL,.and no matter what you do,.keep playing.You need it.We need it.The World needs it."

Then on a concert with Eric Mingus,.I felt a HUGE presence standing next to me during the music,.right after I played a solo where I tried to be as BLUE as possible.I heard a voice.Loud,.passionate,.almost angry:

“Believe this! If we were alive at the same time,.you would be in MY band!.."

I said nothing,.but thought to myself,.,that might really be the best place for me.If only.I think I might have just FIT in that environment.Could it be that playing Bass Clarinet with his son,.with THAT much intent,.reached out to him as well? These experiences were very real.

Back to Alice again,..and I need to study her life,.and especially the choices she made and when she made them.Coming through the house that Trane built,.she would go on to build her own house,.and then even a church in a sense.(A literal Ashram) Sometimes Blues just POURED out of her,.and that ORGAN!! She sounded like Trane sometimes with that.Then the HARP!! Alice really just opened everything up with the harp,.just WEAVING INTRICATE INFINITE tapestries of sound.Her Harp music might be from the year 5555.(Oh yeah,.wait,.time's a CIRCLE) I take one of Alice's messages to be to EMBRACE the spiritual power in music,.not run from it,.and to not let your own fear get in the way.Could Trane have done anything he did if he was AFRAID of himself? Alice's music has many signposts she left us as she blazed that trail.I'm ready to listen.BEEN ready.

Now to just KEEP.GOING.

The greatest musical experience of my life up to this point is a duo with OC where I brought over an alto Clarinet,.and we ended up in the way upper register of the alto's playing the same notes,.holding them out,.over and over again,.pouring our hearts out together.

Afterwords Ornette said,..

“There it was,.maybe the greatest thing there is in music,..and in life.."

“The Unison"

Dedicated to Alice Coltrane

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of Brilliant Corners, a Boston Jazz Blog.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

Post a comment


Jazz News


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.