Brandee Younger: Transcendence: A glimpse into the life and legacy of Alice Coltrane

Saturday, September 29, 1:00-2:00pm

Logan Center Screening Room Talks

Musician, composer, and scholar BRANDEE YOUNGER will present a talk on Alice Coltrane in the Logan Screening Room. ALICE MCLEOD (later COLTRANE) began playing jazz as a professional in the early 1960s in Detroit, where she performed with the likes of Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Sanders, and Carlos Santana, and where she met husband John Coltrane, with whom she would play and record until John’s death in 1967. While she raised their four children, including Ravi Coltrane, Alice’s innovative musical style continued to develop, and her recordings span from 1968 (Monastic Trio) to 2004 (Translinear Light). In the late 1960s, Alice committed herself to meditation and the seeking of spiritual truth. She became known as Turiyasangitananda, founded The Vedantic Center, established a spiritual community in Southern California, and recorded an expansive catalog of ashram music. These devotionals, created for and released mainly for the Sai Anantam Ashram, which Coltrane founded and directed from 1983 until her death, tell a story of womanhood and spirituality. Younger first began to realize the scope of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music when she was handpicked by saxophonist Ravi Coltrane to perform at his mother’s memorial service in 2007. In this talk she will share her extensive study on the life and creative work of Alice Coltrane.

A fearless and versatile talent, harpist BRANDEE YOUNGER defies genres and labels as a classically trained musician playing in the avant-garde tradition of her sonically forward predecessors Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane. Younger delivers a consistently fresh take on the ancient instrument as an educator, concert curator, performer, and leader of the Brandee Younger Quartet. Younger has produced an impressive body of work since the 2011 debut of her seminal Prelude EP, including Brandee Younger Live @ The Breeding Ground, a breakthrough performance on Bluenote Records and Revive Music’s 2015 Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1 LP, and the more recent release of her critically acclaimed 2016 Wax & Wane LP.

Known for expressive interpretations of traditional harp repertoire as well as her continued work with a diverse cross-section of musical talents, Younger is widely recognized as a creative linchpin whose nuanced presence and willingness to push boundaries have made her irreplaceable on record and in performance. She has worked with jazz leaders and popular hip-hop and R&B titans including Ravi Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Jack Dejohnette, Reggie Workman, Common, John Legend, and Lauryn Hill.

As well versed in performance art as she is in the art of creative risk-taking, Younger challenges commonly held notions in her quest to “make the harp a more relevant force in today’s music.” Younger’s ability to seamlessly inject the harp into arrangements and venues where it has historically been overlooked is a testament to her deep love for and exemplary command of the instrument.