Krsna Culture in Music, Part 8
BY: JAHNAVA DEVI
Alice Coltrane (Swamini A.C. Turiyasangitananda)
May 17, 2012 CANADA (SUN) Reprising a 2006 Sun series on the cultural impact of Krsna Consciousness on the western music scene.
Given the strong counter-culture influence that moved Krsna Culture out into the world of rock music, it's somewhat surprising to see just how many jazz artists have also taken up the name of Lord Krsna in their music. While the Beatnik influence was strongly felt in Jazz, the hippie/rock counter-culture had less impact.
Today we'll look at the world of Jazz albums, beginning with Alice Coltrane, who made one of the biggest splashes with her album entitled, "Radha Krsna Nama Sankirtana". Alice married one of history's most prominent jazz musicians, John Coltrane, in 1965. She created her own special brand of Jazz, replete with harp, piano, organ and Indian instruments such as the tamboura. One of the rare female instrumentalists in jazz, she was produced some wonderful Krsna Conscious material.
"Coltrane became a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. In 1972, Coltrane moved to California, where she established the Vedantic Center in 1975. By the late 1970s she had changed her name to Turiyasangitananda. Coltrane was the spiritual director, or swamini, of Shanti Anantam Ashram (later renamed Sai Anantam Ashram in Chumash Pradesh), which The Vedantic Center established in 1983 near Malibu, California. On rare occasions, she continued to perform publicly under the name Alice Coltrane." She often performed with her children, daughter Sita and son Arjuna.
Radha Krsna Nama Sankirtana was recorded in August 1976, nine months before Transcendence, which could be considered a sister work. The well known track, 'Hare Krishna' from her earlier album, Universal Consciousness (1971), is all instrumental, but here's a sample of Coltrane's unmistakable voice, singing
Yamuna Tira Vihari.
Swamini Turiyasangitananda often wrote about spiritual life:
"Keep your faith strong in the Lord. If your prayers are sincere, God hears and accepts your prayer. The divine flame of truth that the Lord was teaching 5000 years ago is still burning brightly. It is pure. It cannot fade and it cannot become dim. It is shining like a great sun in the firmament. There is no maya covering the purity, the truth. What comes from one who attains this light? Who is dwelling in this light? Sukha, happiness; it exists in God. It comes from God. Happiness and the knowledge of attaining God's truth are as wonderful as God giving us truths of life and the holy scriptures."
"Divine music is one of the highest mercies extended to us by God. It is as powerful as prayer itself. The potency of sacred music has in certain instances superceded the curative properties of medicine, mantra, and affirmations. This is due to the heart's principle of love, purity, and innate receptivity. Often, the mind that knows the use of recitation and affirmations, at times has found that little value results when it exhaustedly abandons the constant repetition.
Divine music is a curative virtue; it is a gift from God that brings healing and comfort to the soul. This music can uplift one's spirit up to a higher dimension of being that is filled with peace and joy. Divine music is the sound of true life, wisdom, and bliss. This music transcends geographical boundaries, language barriers, age factors; and whether educated or uneducated, it reaches deep into the heart and soul, sacred and holy, like an Infinite sound of glory entering the Lord's sanctuary."
Following are a few more notable examples of Jazz albums with a Krsna flavour:
Tony Scott - "Music for Yoga Meditation and Other Joys"
This album includes nine tracks, all titled after eastern spirituality, including "Hare Krishna - Hail Krishna".
Steve Dalachinsky - Incomplete Directions
Steve Dalachinsky is a well known jazz musician and poet who frequents the downtown New York avant-garde jazz scene. His writing on this album is an extension of the Beat tradition, and includes several Krsna inspired tracks, including "Tale of Krishna", and Mahabharata Bluettes.
Pizzicato Five -- Bossa Nova 2001
This Japanese band's kitschy, indie-pop album includes a cut entitled "Hallelujah Hara Krishna".
Bobby Bryant -"Good Morning StarShine / Be-In (Hare Krishna)
Released late 60's
An unusual flugel horn jazz rendition of "Be-In (Hare Krishna) from the Broadway musical, Hair, a side B Single release. Be-In (Hare Krishna) from Hair is one of the all-time most recorded songs in pop culture featuring the Maha-mantra. It's been recorded repeatedly over the years, in every conceivable musical mood: Jazz, Fusion, Latin, Bossa Nova, you name it. It's been done with and without lyrics, with and without hair.
David Sylvan & Fripp
At live shows throughout 1993 through 2001, David Sylvan has done a signature song entitled "Krishna Blue". He has not yet recorded the song on an album.
Bob Thiele & His Happy Time Orchestra
Release date unknown
This 60's plum includes Gabor Szabo with the California Dreamers, Tom Scott and Bill Plummer. Cuts include "Krishna", Light my Fire and Fakin' It.