Alice Coltrane – Prema

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Invisible Hits is a column in which Tyler Wilcox scours the internet for the best (and strangest) bootlegs, rarities, outtakes, and live clips.

Over a decade after Alice Coltrane passed away—or, as her website puts it, “left her physical form”—the musician’s followers continue to grow, via her time with John Coltrane’s late-period band, her pioneering solo work in the ’60s and ’70s, or the deeply spiritual music she recorded as Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. For listeners who want to dig a bit deeper into her long journey, there are several excellent rarities to discover that give an alternate look at her musical quest for transcendence and transfiguration.

One of the earliest glimpses we have of Alice Coltrane—then Alice McLeod—is this early 1960s clip of her, drummer Don Brown and bassist Al King coasting through the Dizzy Gillespie standard “Woody ‘n’ You.” Her nimble playing during this formative period (she was just 22 at the time) shows the influence of her mentor, the legendary pianist Bud Powell, whom she met when she moved to Paris in 1959. Musically, there’s no real hint of the wild styles she’d get into later in the decade; this is straight-up, no-frills bebop that feels like a bit of a throwback even in 1960. But the joyous expressions that light up Alice’s face suggest a musician who’s ready, willing, and able to get lost in the sound.

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