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Episode 49

Journey in Satchidananda

Alice Coltrane

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece Journey in Satchidananda is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

Transcript

Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Cliff: You’re listening to TuneDig, a conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music, one album at a time. I’m Cliff Seal.

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Stapleton. Each episode we talk about a single album in depth, unpacking it through conversation to understand what makes it worth appreciating and learning a little bit about life along the way.

Cliff: If you’re listening for the first time because we’re covering an artist or a record you love, we promise you’ll learn something new or gain a new perspective by the end of the episode.

Kyle: And if you’ve stuck with us for multiple episodes, you know by now that you’re bound to expand your horizons. As we share a clear entry points for artists you may never have tried to get into before.

Cliff: Today we’re talking about Journey in Satchidananda by Alice Coltrane.

Kyle: All right, man. You ready to go deep?

Cliff: Deep breaths.

Kyle: Focus on your breathing. It’s the motif for today? Woodstock 1969, a thing happened. That I did not know preparing for this episode happened, there was an opening address by a holy man known as Swami and such. He done on that.

and then those opening remarks setting the stage for the weekend. He described the music as celestial sound that controls the whole universe. So this is, guess, if anything, a reflection on music at its highest and best use in our lives. I hope that’s what the next few minutes achieve between us and whoever may be listening. Um, we’re both, we’re both like anyone else who has experienced the last, the last two years as a raw nerve, uh, in, in kind of the tenderest places that we’ve always been for or ever been for different reasons. And I had the thought listening to this record, that the first thing I wanted to say in this episode was posing a rhetorical question. Have you listener ever looked into the eyes of a child or a dog or at a sunset, or had a really good bite of food eating by herself at a restaurant? Just for a brief moment, you felt completely at one with everything, not in a way you necessarily know how to describe it. You just knew you hold onto this millisecond. Cause this is, this is everything you would dare go so far as to say you felt the peace in the warmth of pure universal love. And the second part of that is maybe you said no, that it didn’t last. It couldn’t put that couldn’t possibly be what it is is silly. It was trivial.

But what if you’d had a way to suspend that moment further in time, suspend a string of moments into a life, um, cliff, you, you changed my life when you gave me the book, we do this till we free us. Mariame Kaba in her teachings reminds us that hope is a discipline, which is such a good mantra. Um, as it’s not in our nature to sustain our focus on, on one thing. And that is our gift and our curse as a species, the Sanskrit term set SITA, Nanda describes all of this. I’m very into all this. Can you tell I’m so excited? Uh, Sensata Nanda describes our subjective experience of the ultimate unchanging reality.

So, uh, translates roughly to existence consciousness, bliss, right? In this concept for worldwide peace to exist, the unfathomable idea in 2020 to have world peace, for it to exist, individuals have to develop the capacity, for unconditional love. So it’s a concept in Hindu philosophy. And what I’m getting at is that it’s a powerful guide for anyone who may be searching and their life. And obviously generations before us have been searching for the same thing, right? If this was the opening address of Woodstock 69

in 2022, my brother in Christ who isn’t searching. Um, so I want

Cliff: people and people who are behind on things. Yep.

Kyle: Um, I wanna, I wanna, I wanted to water the ground with that before we got into this music that surprised us on a level that I don’t think either of us thought we were still capable of being surprised.

Cliff: Uh, I expected to come in and put this record on positive blessed, and I’m actively upset at how much I love this already. it is outsized

Kyle: never pick which episode in the season is going to be the one to rewire my shit. Um, I’m always wrong about it. I always think I’m, I’m, going to call it and one always surprises me. Um, spoiler, please keep listening to find out why this is the one. If the extremely cosmic intro, didn’t get you stick around for the rest. Um, it’s a remarkable journey. This record journey Institute and Nanda, and the story of Alice Coltrane in general. Um, Alice we’ve come to find

is

a profoundly spiritual. Deeply enlightened, ridiculously talented woman, uh, who guided a deep pain into something enduringly beautiful and meaningful. And so without tripping on ourselves over the trope of great things, come from great pain, uh, LA Teddy Perkins. Uh, I want to explore the story of this record and of Alice Coltrane, which is a glimpse into, I think, what it means to be truly free,

Cliff: which is the heaviness that we don’t necessarily try to lightly put on every record that we experienced. Like, we, we talked about heart recently, We had a great time listening to little queen, but this is categorically different in terms of it’s like,

Kyle: you’re going to find it everywhere though. Like we popped our heads up to look at gen Z and Olivia Rodrigo’s making heavy ass records. Right? It’s like, At ni right now everybody’s feeling it. Right. So if we got to feel it, if we got to go through it, let’s channel it in a beautiful and productive way.

Cliff: She was onto something back then, for sure.

Kyle: in a refreshing turn for the season where there has been kind of a dearth of material for us to research. There’s so much that’s been said about this, like many people with many great words and images have had a lot of beautiful things to say about it.

And so a lot of what I’m pulling from in my notes is just straight up excerpts from other people’s words. And I will happily give a work cited in the Twitter because it’s all so good. It’s universally so good, which no. Dear listener

never

fucking

Cliff: never with a capital in capital V in the middle. Like yeah, never, never.

Kyle: We joked about how you have to Wade through the first two pages of Google results for absolute Shylock. Every time you Google a record, not the case with us. So I think that immediately tells you something about

like the gravity of what we’re dealing with. one of the very nicely succinctly put sentences about the situation is that Alice was a bebop pianist from Detroit who evolved into one of Jazz’s singular visionaries, ultimately walking away from public performance to become a guru and beacon of enlightenment for others. She was born to do it. Um, jenny she herself on the, on the idea of being truly free. She herself said in a 1970 interview, no matter where I go in the world or what I do, I’m free, the world cannot claim me anymore.

Cliff: I’m not even ready for a dude

Kyle: Who, who would not want to feel that way? Um, so yeah, I mean, almost anyone who has found this record by, by our estimation and reflection, anyone who finds it and has a channel of their own to reflect on it seems moved more into harmony with themselves in the world by it.

And they feel compelled to invite others to it kindly and gently. So. It’s selling it way short to call it a meditation album. I mean, she did herself say in the liner notes, I hope this album will be a form of meditation and a spiritual awakening for those who will send with their inner ear. Um,

but

it was, it was telling who people who may or may not have read those liner notes, all sort of arrived at the conclusion of, I use this as a way to, to steady myself, to center myself,

to look inside myself.

Um, I mean, no fewer than three or four

different sources.

Cliff: One of my favorite parts about experiencing this record intensely and intentionally like we do, is

Kyle: uh,

Cliff: most of these records, I’d say we, even if we’re not super familiar with them as individual pieces of work, we’re loosely familiar with it. There’s no way we would have picked something We’re not.

at least Mildly familiar with something we’ve listened to before or something we’re aware of on the edges of it. And this was one, uh, if, for no other reason than like you can’t even listen to the weird shit that we love to listen to you without them namedropping like Alice Coltrane and kind of this record in particular.

right. Like, uh, uh, I had even heard in, you, you mentioned all of the, all of the the feedback about this record, somehow managing to be top tier itself. And even in one of those, I heard

that band’s like, a home and the Mars Volta,

take inspiration from Alice Coltrane, which if you’ve listened to either of those bands, that’s, you’re going to kind of sit there in your brain for about 20 seconds.

And then that, that thought is going to click. in Exactly. a And it will never leave again. And so w we had had some exposure for sure,

Kyle: but,

Cliff: one of the reasons I was excited to talk about this. record Is because of the individual experiences. It can cause in you, if you’re willing to engage with it in specific ways, we love talking about active listening and all the different ways that you can listen to a record and let it catch you and let it hit different and all that stuff.

This was absolutely one of those. And I want to give it a little bit of a runway before we go directly into what the liner notes say to do, Okay. because, because it’s true and I never would have believed it. I think if I hadn’t kind of like rounded out to it myself, but one of the … I always text you, Kyle, during the year or during the time of the year

Um, I’m seeing snow for the first time.

Um, because it’s, it’s one of the few times a year where I can just reliably be happy and not thinking about anything else for a moment. Just like, okay, there’s enough snow on the ground for me to stand on a piece of wood and pointed downhill. Yeah.

Kyle: right? Like we have all the privilege in the known world and still struggled to.

Cliff: just

Kyle: Turn over the engine to feel good and alive and full in this world.

Right. So imagine how much harder it is

for

other people. I mean, you don’t have to, you can just get on Twitter, but

Cliff: still

Kyle: it’s like,

yeah,

I, I am so grateful and I wish for everybody that they have their first snow of the season on a snowboard moment that you have, like, that’s been so instructive for me.

Like, oh, I need my snowboard thing.

I haven’t done. I haven’t done.

my snowboard thing

in a while.

Cliff: Yeah. When I find something that makes it easy for me to like light up that flow thing, I’m going to keep repeating it. That’s become like a life emo for me, for sure. Uh, the like, th there’s, there’s nothing else.

That’s the happiness you’re chasing. When you find some of it, you got to figure out how to replicate it. Yeah. You Just gotta be there. Lose all your judgment of it. Okay. This is the thing. I did. I’m going to do it now.

Kyle: I’m feeling real. Brenae brown right now.

Cliff: I would love to talk to Bernay brown about this record. That would be a sick podcast. It’s a great idea.

Kyle: Go out, go out on the river in Austin in a tube. And

just talk about journey, the cheetah Nanda with Bernay brown checking a Micole tra or something

Cliff: Yeah, no curses in this episode. Oh man. That would be awesome. So that’s such good context. for me. So

I found that snow along with like bikes and a couple of other things for me, there are things that kind of like forcibly pull me into moments where I remember what it feels like to let go a little bit usually.

Okay. So I always text you Kyle, because I start every season and now I just love that this is a thing. So I do it. so I’m sequentially moving through all the outcasts records as the first thing I listened to the first time I see snow every year, whatever. So Snowboarding is a way that I experience music and especially music that we talk about on this podcast, a hundred percent of everything we’ve ever talked about.

I’ve listened to on the side of a mountain multiple times, Um,

Kyle: emotion on the side of a

Cliff: Yeah. And it, it really brings out something totally different uh, about a lot of

Kyle: of music,

Cliff: um,

and just to, just to dive a little bit further, like one that really nails, the feeling of being in snow is Bjork homogenic.

That became like a surprise one to me that didn’t seem like it fit. Now, all of a sudden I’m like, I don’t,

Kyle: is your emotional

Cliff: yeah. I feel Like I’m in a snow globe and Barrick is in there like telling me what’s happening. I’m watching you. Um, So like

Kyle: how, how Scandinavian have you?

Cliff: to find peace while skiing. Yeah. Um, well That was a good bit. You won that round Kyle. so. what I put this one on didn’t work. I can’t like three or four times throughout the year because I was, I wanted to find the way to let this thing get it tooks in me the way things always do. Right. And I kept trying to do

Kyle: it

Cliff: in the more active.

Okay. I’ve got something that can kind of like entertain half of my brain while I’m using the other 50%, you know, like go down the mountain and not run into a tree and die. That sort of thing. It didn’t work. It, It, I didn’t get it. It felt like there wasn’t enough to latch onto, and I had not read the liner notes before I decided I don’t understand what I’m missing about this time to just get max chill, get vertical weight, get horizontal. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m usually vertical

Kyle: no, bro.

Cliff: Directions are hard lay down, put in the headphones that you can wear while you’re totally laid

turn off everything and just put it on and figure out

what

the fuck is going on with this. Why don’t I get it? Why, why don’t I care what’s happening? And I’ve got those feelings and sensations as the first track kind of rolls in.

And I’m immediately aware of those thoughts, right? Immediately I’ve gotten like a level of space just from listening to the song. And now I’m aware of what was my, what was my deal with this song to begin with? Why was I so worried about getting it? And then I realized that it had worked right. It took that amount of time took to convert me into oh shit.

Okay. All right. So now I understand how to get this record a little bit more and ever since then, It feels different. It now it’s more like Pavlov’s bell. Yeah. Now I hear the whitney or a little and I’m drew, I’m drawn into a place where I start breathing a little slower. And I start thinking about how I’m thinking so much And it felt like magic It feels like magic.

We talk a lot about music as meditation. We’ve talked about bands like sun and yeah. And So this stuff shouldn’t shock us, especially me and you, but I just felt like

Kyle: but it’s sort of like

Cliff: mouth agape type thing.

Kyle: now we’re at the point where we know the magic trick, right. And the next high is harder to come by,

you know?

So we’re always sort of waiting for it to happen and then it doesn’t happen.

That’s watched water a little bit. So to be caught off guard, I think, again, speaks to the potency, like where we’re at experience. Like we’re actively looking for music to make us meditate

Cliff: Yeah, just slow down

Kyle: and there’s something about it. And I think we can get into some of what we think that something might be, but there is an indescribable cosmic thing that just puts you in the head space. The Pavlov thing is interesting. I think it’s funny that you told the Outkast mountain story, because my moment where it clicked for me was also related to outcasts.

The moment I knew that this was going to be the record for me was. after a handful of listens of like this, cool, I dig it. I can put this on and drive around or walk around or whatever,

and

Cliff: It’s lowercase, jazz.

Kyle: yeah. Yeah.

Uh, you know, I it’s in that category with like bright black morning light or things that are, they move up and down and sideways.

It’s not straight drone, but it gets the right drone going.

It’s like

that halfway point between Brian Eno and Cannes where it’s like not too little and not too much. It’s it sits just right. And allows you to do what you’re going to do.

I knew when I had no music on and I was going about my day and I started humming the journey baseline, but like

once

you know

Cliff: titled track. yeah.

Kyle: doodle

and. Oh, my God. I’m going to start thinking about that baseline as much as I think about the Spottieottiedopaliscious baseline. And I’ve now butted up against my number one, favorite,

and most important song in the history of my life and existence my framing song for everything. So it’s in the Canon now for me, like

journey

and Institute and Nanda.

Can’t wait to talk to anyone who will listen about it instantly because it’s like, oh, it connects to a wavelength that I’ve been on for 25 years. Yeah. I’m ready.

Cliff: And it’s accessible as both jazz and cosmic meditative music, which has, I think that, like, once I started doing the little loops of realization of like, okay, this is great.

Okay. Why, why is it great? What is it doing? What, wait a minute. It’s it’s in theory. Partially complex jazz, completely stripped down. to, Um, like, you know, you’re talking about the baseline, like.

Kyle: what

Cliff: non jazz heads can hear it, understand the elements that are involved because the,

the

musicians, especially, I think here play play parts, as well as I’ve seen happen in, in jazz That’s attempting to do this sort of thing, because you’ve always got, you know, kind of characters in the play with jazz, Cause you’ve always got the, like, you know, everyone, except for the one character is going to draw back now.

And now you’re going to get more of that one character. So you’re still getting like comping and soloing and all that stuff. in jazz, like a lot of the stuff is improvisational for sure. But there’s everyone sort of occupies a particular and important part of

almost literal like Sonic landscape at this point, right?

Like the, you know, the introduction of timber era as an instrument where now you’ve got this mid and high range sound that’s droning instead of the base droning. But the base, like you’ve mentioned, even in that title, track is just going to walk along with a repeating riff for ever. And that like, it’s got enough to hook you in to the movement of the music and give you a sense of rhythm, but the Tamboura and that kind of drone and repetition is causing a little bit of disassociation.

And so you’ve got this almost spatial feeling, not, not quite like with Fadra or like the Tangerine dream stuff, but you’ve got this sort of space in the music that you don’t normally have between instruments. And I think it’s accentuated by the instruments themselves. being. Eastern, uh, where some of the instruments are taking up, literally a different part of the Sonic registered than most jazz would.

And so they’re all approaching it from this angle of creating and having a meditative experience for someone to be a part of. Um, and they, they, you know, they’re really specific instructions from Alice on, on what you need to envision when you’re

Kyle: listening.

Cliff: to this. Um, but I think that space between all those different instruments, lets you settle in and appreciate why these different instruments and this rhythm and the type of group this, why do all these pieces come from the different parts of our different worldwide cultures that help us to go inside and calm down and quiet down.

like. Part part of what makes this so kind of ridiculous as an experience of a record is like, well, okay on paper, that’s exactly the right idea. Right. That feels so obvious.

Surely it wouldn’t work to just go grab a couple of Eastern instruments, throw it on jazz and say, make this modal jazz, but a little less chromatic.

And now we’ve

created a new type of meditation like that, that just feels like it shouldn’t work. And it just does.

Kyle: Yeah. I, I think part of the reason it works is again, she describes in the liner notes. Like I just

sort

of chose these instruments because I gravitated toward them. I felt an affinity toward them.

It wasn’t like this needs to be more Eastern, so let’s do a Tam Bora. Right. It just wasn’t cheeky, novelty, world music

like that. I think the other thing that’s interesting to me about the, the Sonic register thing that you talked about is. I’m not a jazz scholar.

I’m

not pretending to be one. So I’m

happy

to be corrected on social media about this.

In fact, I would, I would love for somebody scholarly

Cliff: We actually love it. When people clap back at the episodes,

Kyle: much, there was a couple episodes ago. Somebody got us on the backward mastering thing and I was like, that’s amazing. Tell me more. I, from what I appreciate of the jazz albums that I know, so

much

of jazz, every character to use your word is, is like showing up in a, in a melodic sort of narrative way.

Versus a lot of what you hear on this record is strictly textural.

Like a lot of jazz doesn’t really strike me as textural. Somebody’s doing a voiced phrase thing. And I think the willingness to kind of add a and build a world rather than tell a linear story, sort of sets it in a whole other category.

To me, that was one of the things that I noticed was

you

mentioned a while, like almost didgeridoo effect that

pulls

you in to the world of the album. It’s a, it’s a bit like stepping into a room. Um, but the, the bells and the sort of percussion things that are going on in

the higher register the whole time are, are meant

almost

as a sort of

hypnotism.

And it’s not until if you listens that you really, your attention draws to them. When you’re you do the. Oh, okay. What is going on? What am I noticing and not noticing

why

am I sort of zoned out? And haven’t really like, landed it with this record

yet? A lot of it is because I think you straight up get hypnotized by some of the textural things on this record, which is super cool.

It’s

like, it’s I got the sensation that this record was smarter than me because it had sort of done the things to me without my conscious mind processing it. And I was like, all right, that’s dope. Let’s, let’s run it again.

Cliff: One of the million reasons, probably,

why all that’s the case? So we mentioned the, the Eastern influence or the, the Eastern instruments specifically. Like this goes well beyond influence. We talk about Eastern and Western influences and all that overlapping stuff Now this is like this is a

Kyle: cashmere. This is not

Cliff: right. So, but not only do we have timber and then on the, on the final track, the live.

track, Uh, ISIS and

Kyle: O Cyrus.

Cliff: Thank you. Um, which is just a boss move. just throw a live track on this record and have it sound so good

Kyle: recorded before the rest of this record recorded on the 4th of July, 1970 at the village gate. Uh, so that was like the first thing they made and then the rest of the record, I guess, kind of flowed from it,

which is so cool

to

have the first thing be like, I just, I don’t know why that’s such a cool detail to me, but it is.

I, I think because the live track normally from for commercial purposes is an afterthought

it’s

usually literally recorded, produced after. another way that Alice is out of step, you know, at the going in the wrong AK right direction away from the intersection of art and commerce.

Cliff: Yeah, she does not seem worried about that in the slightest at any point that we find,

Kyle: and it makes for a better product, right. Or just a piece of art.

Cliff: so she’s gotten the inclusion of these Eastern instruments, but on top of that, right, is the heart obviously, and this isn’t her first record with the harp, but I think a couple of things will kind of help draw this out the harp itself. I think in this environment with those other instruments specifically, again, it’s pretty obvious ingredients in like this, uh, magic that comes back to us, but like, um, of course a whimsical harp played by an expert It’s going to sound pretty amazing, uh, laid on top of these other kinds of like droney and repetitive ways for us to have like a, uh, like We’ve almost kind of got our own little ginger that we can eat, just to, to make sure that we can taste the harp all the time.

And like, I love that we can, first of all, say she was already doing the heart before this, the records before this one, that she had done a monastic trio, for instance, you know, w we’ll tell some of this story, I’m sure. But like you know, once John Coltrane didn’t exist anymore. Um, it’s not like everyone went, oh, well, we didn’t really like playing with Alice Coltrane anyway, all of them continued to play together. but I think what’s worth calling out a little bit is, is the way that she uses the harp on this record compared to a monastic trio, um, you know, or how this might get treated in general, in jazz,

once she’s taking the approach here of doing something meditative of creating a space and a texture. And now is using the heart to actually do that on purpose, as opposed to, you know, a little bit more on monastic trio, especially like you’ve got this kind of urgency. Like the harp is like, we’ve said, like one of those characters, the characters are all there. They’re all kind of like equal parts. They’re taking turns.

And there, are, there are more statements sort of being made there. And then on this record in journey, it’s like all the instruments have sort of backed up into this. Okay. No, literally we’re in a room. there’s a ton of incidents burning. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from someone who played with her, uh, was I think it was Cecil McBee, but they asked him like, what’s the most interesting thing about, uh, about, you know, playing music and recording with Alice Coltrane and he starts laughing.

He’s like, all I can remember is the God awful amount of incidents she used to burn. And, uh, but he, you know, he talked about, he wasn’t really used to that, but then actually like, okay, it actually did help me focus when I did it in the moment. And like that, that’s a, it’s a nice little illustration of what feels different to me about the way that she uses the heart.

For instance, on this record it, I mean, she wants to create this wide space for you to experience the different sounds, to listen to different parts of things at different moments. The harp is not telling you much of anything at any point, which is what I love. And like part of what works well with, you know, Pharaoh Sanders and the soprano sax and all that on this record and how I think, you know, as a huge fan of a love Supreme and John Coltrane’s work, like here’s where we come all the way back around.

And I think can draw some sharp kind of contrast about why this is not only incredible meditative music, but incredible and accessible jazz.

Kyle: Yup.

Cliff: John Coltrane and the music that they were making together because Alice played with him. John was I think in a lot of situations and I really feel you can hear during like a love Supreme.

Kyle: Yeah.

Cliff: Urgency still comes to mind as an adjective, but it’s, busy in a way where, especially like on, on som like John Coltrane is literally trying to put words into the language of music and he’s being wordy about it. He’s got a lot to say, there’s, you know, time could not contain all the things he has to say.

All the things he’s discovered, all the questions he asked to ask, right. And everything has this kind of chromatic, uh, like you’re being led around corners in and you’re filled with thoughts and energy and emotion, uh, in in there are these moments of intensity in the pockets of release and it’s this back and forth and back and forth.

And just, that’s not it here. None of that’s it here. Like you’re, you’re in it moment, one all the way through the end of the last live track, you’re in this really big space that’s been set up and as opposed to having so many urgent kind of like important questions that might be sort of disguised to statements, you’re sort of like, actually,

Kyle: just here,

Cliff: actually.

I’m just here, If you have anything you’d like to think that’s fine, but actually I’m just here,

Kyle: and

a love Supreme, which by the way, I had no experience with before we covered in the first season. And you know, what a quite literally religious experience I was forever changed because of that record. Um,

John

is

I think D

to put a little finer point on what you were saying is putting himself in the center

of

the spiritual equation.

I have this prayer to offer. I have this question to ask of the universe, right. There are still ego in there, in the like true classical Greek sense. There is not that this record is defined by the absence of individual consciousness. Alice here is influenced by the Swami’s teachings

that

the holy spirit was everywhere that we are merely the manifestations of an infinite life force.

Right? So it’s, it’s trying to conjure the whole, John is still the singular person in the middle of his thing and, and hers is an attempt to transcend. So I, I, do think there’s a, a fundamental difference there to your point that, that I really appreciate

Cliff: there’s,

Kyle: there’s very, I don’t want to overly contrast them,

but

by the same token, I do think they make an interesting pair because John and Alice are so aligned in their spiritual pursuits in life.

It’s kind of interesting to think about the two of them together and see if one, one book of the Bible. So to speak speaks to you. Then the other, it’s a little bit like a masculine and feminine approach to praise or, take on the same thing, right? The, the way that there are gods and goddesses throughout ancient mythology and,

and,

uh, in, in Hindu philosophy, which this draws so much from, uh, and I would love for us to go down that rabbit hole a little, there are masculine and feminine compliments of the same idea of the way that there are Greek and Roman equivalents of gods in mythology.

So I do think there’s a string to pull out there. If you’re interested in exploring the sort of like theological origins of a lot of this thinking and the teachings of Swami’s the cheetah Nanda. There’s a, there’s a lot to go on there and it’s really potent and rich and. The language of it is a lot more inclusive and story-based and, sort of kind, it feels like to me then, then, the religious traditions that we were brought up in, uh, it invites you into it more than telling you what it is.

So I

like

stop the tape and go start Googling at that is, uh, a thing that you’re into

Cliff: well, and here’s where to draw that out a little bit. Here’s where Ellis, his instructions to us can can maybe be a lightening. So she says in the liner notes, quote, anyone listening to the selection should try to envision himself floating on an ocean of, such a

love, which is literally carrying countless devotees across the vicissitudes and storming blasts of life to the, other

Kyle: when you heard vicissitudes in some liner notes.

Cliff: It’s like at once. That is deeply beautiful. That’s also some moon night. Shit. dude like, whoa. All right. All right. We’re back. Okay. We got that. Okay. But we’re carried across the

Kyle: Hey, for real though, if you were into the gypsy and mythology in moon night,

if you dug that

next step recommended, if you like journey into Gina nada.

Cliff: Well, every time I even had the inkling to sort of trivialize a thing, it’s like, it disappeared in front of my eyes, like, well, yeah, of course.

That is a story from from ancient Egypt. Egypt is brought in here on purpose. Oh, okay. I guess, I guess that does make sense. I guess I should try to like envision myself floating in an ocean, which it’s hard to draw this out, I think, but if you just heard us say. that And you haven’t ever listened to this record.

I feel like that sounds like a, big hump to get over, or like you’re, you’re going to have a hard time or a stupid time trying to figure out what that feels like that it means. And all I can tell you is if you listen to it before you hear that phrase, that phrase somehow clicks exactly right.

It requires no effort.

Kyle: That’s

Cliff: the best and easiest way to listen to this. Because if you try to do it while you’re doing something else, you might get a little confused. It becomes a groove that you can take with you and songs that you can love. But for sure period, everyone within the sound of our voice, as like our explicit encouragement, to find time, to do a full-on active listening, nothing else, just this record type of experience, uh, because of the people who made it wanted you to listen to it that way.

And there’s a lot, There’s a lot that they put into making that a reality of the music.

Kyle: I know he sounded like the meditation equivalent of CrossFit guys right now, you know,

and

Cliff: it is only the past 48 episodes that save us from that. fate. Yes.

Kyle: Matt meditation just sounds like 20 minutes of hell of just

sitting still

and not doing anything until the first day where you have a little bit of a breakthrough and then you hear some shit like renew myself completely again and again each day.

And you’re like, oh yeah, totally,

Cliff: Yeah,

Kyle: absolutely. That is what makes sense to me. nothing makes sense until it does.

One

thing I wanna, I wanna make sure that we go back to is a little bit of a head split thought. Like, have you ever really thought about a harp? Have you ever really.

Seriously, but

before the context of this, have you ever thought about what a miracle a harp is? As a thing?

Cliff: I have only a little bit and only because I was a music major on a stringed instruments. but Yeah. Like they they’re wild and they are not made the same as like pianos in other things like that, which you just kind of tune and then go for

Kyle: We take them. So for granted,

and if

you have ever watched an episode or a YouTube video of how it’s made and marveled at the human ability to conceptualize and create a thing out of thin air, and then to make it do something beautiful and

actualize

all

the magic

cosmic

sparks in our brain,

harps

are fucking

unreal.

And

it didn’t really occur to me even

listening to the record

until I watched on YouTube. There’s a little thing, three part shorts. And in the second of the three

parts,

there’s a closeup video of Alice playing the harp. And you’re just like, how in the fuck? Like so many steps had to go into this to make this moment possible.

So then my next thing was like harp, how it’s made. And I’m going to link

that up on the thread.

Cause I was like, oh my God, this is like the

kind of thing that the ancient masters made. It was a craft like a cobbler, like a good shoe is a masterpiece. You know, this is if a shoe could sing and sound like angels, uh,

and,

and no sooner had I done that exercise.

Then I read another article

But said when the windows were open at John analysis

home, which I think we should

do

some backstory. I’m glad that we didn’t do the first 45 minutes of just backstory and then not talk about the music we actually got it. Right.

Cliff: Everyone else has Alice Coltrane story starts with, so John Coltrane I’m like, cool. thanks.

Kyle: Well,

w we texted

about that. I don’t remember who said

it first, but it was like if we do that, we quit the

Cliff: pump.

Kyle: but

it said if the windows were open at her home, Alice later recalled a strong breeze would make the strings of her heart. Hum. As though some invisible force were strumming them. So it’s literally so light that nature can make it make beautiful noise.

And to your point. So then there’s all that around just the harp as a sort of majestic thing on its face. The way that she’s playing it is very inventive and it’s an alien instrument to the genre. It’s her and Dorothy Ashby. And that’s kinda, and it’s a very elegant instrument,

typically used in classical to, to like elevate it.

And, and when you’re using it in an operatic context, it is for things like angels and soprano type,

right. it’s about beauty.

the way that she makes it sound powerful and experimental, and somebody said, and cool, that’s, uh, indeed a transcendent experience. Um,

I

love the descriptor. You know, I have such imposter syndrome, not being a player of music. Like,

especially when we get to jazz where I know that like the technical aspects, the execution

can, can,

tell a story, but it’s in high Rigoletto next to me. I can’t,

Cliff: Well, all these people have gone beyond Yeah. But like they have left. planet earth,

Kyle: So

I’m

always kind of counting on you,

the person who is played and studied music theory

Cliff: just barely good enough to go there. So good.

Kyle: Well,

it’s like, it’s like go into Paris with you and you know, enough to order the good thing

on the map. Like, you know, which wine is the good wine

at least. Right. Um, I love this thing that this author said. They said because she refuses to stay in one key. Instead treating the album’s themes as a set of recurring melodic shapes.

The very texture of journey is defined by transition and process and flow it’s music has no beginning or end instead as the first bars of the opening track demonstrate Coltrane is working with the principle of looping and thereby transcendence.

Renewed myself completely

again and again and again.

Cliff: Yeah. She does take the concept of mantra and shortens anything that could be considered a mantra and to some pretty short loops that then become more tightly repetitive, catch you in interesting spots, the harp on top of being interesting for all the reasons you pointed out. I think maybe gives us a good, a good hook into the story because, um, my understanding is uh, this was something that John and Alice, the heart they ordered together, or John ordered it for her.

It’s a little hard to tell and the romantic look backs that people have, but it sounds like they had agreed to get one ordered and they had to be handmade. And this was something that John was involved in before his death, but didn’t get completed the harp itself wasn’t completed until after John’s passing.

so. They are already both as obviously like very trained and expert musicians, actively We’re like a heart. Yes. We want that. Like that sounds awesome. I think we can do more of it and specifically for the two of them, um, because they had, you know, what they had met in the, in the early sixties. And I think one thing we can say, even if we talk about some of the details of their story is they seem to have connected spiritually pretty immediately.

Um, and that seemed to extend into their approach to music. it’s really, I think, hard to convey. We don’t really mean this in a light way. like people believe that music has spiritual power, like, yeah. Okay. But what I’m saying is in the Coltrane house, they like went into the room for the for, to be together, to experience the music, to create the spiritual moment to get to be right inside of it All like angels on the pin of a needle together on purpose, just being spiritual together because they had transcended the let’s make some cool sounding music stuff, unnecessary and easy for them at this point, like they’re actively engaging in something akin to meditation or a spirituality that a lot of us don’t have the capacity to reach because we’re not that good at a thing.

Kyle: Right. They’re kids described in interviews. How, if it were like what you were saying, they were trying to. Beautiful music together. and it was assembly that they might’ve shooed the kids out of the room, but the kids would run around and do whatever crazy kids stuff they did. And it was always encouraged.

They always wanted them around. It didn’t

affect their ability to like keep

making

the music that they were making. So it was very free flowing and open

in their

household in a way that their kids straight up said, I never felt like I was on the way my parents did their thing. And we were always invited into it.

Very, very special blissful energy in that it’s I don’t think it’s cheesy though. What you said about the, the way that they were connected spiritually through music, their relationship was described as predicated on mutual inspiration and spiritual elevation. I loved whoever put it that way.

But she herself said I had an inner feeling about him.

I was connecting with another message that I had perceived as coming through the music

at

Birdland. That same feeling would come back. Something that I comprehend was associated with my soul or spirit. And the author of this article said the two musicians, Alison John barely spoke. The Alice described John’s silence as loud.

And a few days later still having exchange. Very few words. Alice heard him playing a melody behind her. She turned and complimented him on its beautiful team. He said it was for her. Come on,

Cliff: I’m a little bit turned on,

to be honest. I mean,

Kyle: but you’ve just met. And you have this, you have a

musical shorthand like that.

Like that’s, that’s,

next level.

You know what I mean? And not in a like notebook, I wrote you letters every day for a year

kind of way. Just like, wow, that’s really profound. Good for you.

Um, I’m so glad that you had that. I guess it’s mostly just cool to know that it’s possible.

And it’s

very real as evidenced by the music that they made together and separately inspired by the period of their lives

together. Yeah.

Cliff: And I do think one reason it’s important to know about their life together before John died. And then, you know, Alice kind of went through this, like not to diminish or elevate anybody’s experience of love.

Uh, I do think a lot of times when we talk about stories, especially of like musicians or entertainer type people finding each other, you know, we we’ve got like Elon Musk and Grimes in our head, you know, just like dirty raunchy. I’m super turned on. We’re rich together. Isn’t this great. Like

Kyle: not

Cliff: was it not that it was something akin to the total inverse of that.

Like You talked about their kids talking about never being shooed out of the room while they’re playing. Okay. So like the world’s foremost, jazz musicians are allowing their children to run around inside of their own home because they’re, you know, playing music with them and allowing them to enter into it.

Kyle: But

Cliff: John was specifically described as like someone who is at home unless he was out, you know, doing music like, and they created a home together with, uh, with a fair amount of children at that point

like four children is a lot for anyone, much less two people.

Kyle: child cliff is often too, too many.

Cliff: Listen, If I could split them up into tenths and take one, it would still be too much. So, clearly they knew what they were

Kyle: they had four under 10 when John died, like they were all kids, they were not together very long. Right.

When John

Cliff: Totally. so it burned white hot, but their white hotness was related to like how actually connected they were in that home environment. They made so much music in this home.

They recorded a lot of important music in this home. Uh, and I think it just speaks to, you know, when, when John dies in 67, I think is that

Kyle: summer of 67. Yeah.

Cliff: So, so John dies and just to be super clear cause I heard someone messed this up before he does have liver cancer. And yeah, it’s, it’s possible maybe even probable that, that his condition at that point in life had been worsened by his drug and alcohol use early on, but he had been sober for a decade before then.

So I think, I just want to be really clear, like let’s, let’s look at the coal trains. as the, the, the safe family that they were. um, at this

Kyle: on three and living on three and a half acres in Dix hill in the middle of long island. three and a half wooded acres, like when people talk about their home is their sanctuary.

When you envision the totally false American dream in your mind,

Cliff: it’s

Kyle: this

it’s totally idyllic. Uh, and they’d built a studio or they were in the process of building a studio in the basement of this home when John died. And the same documentary that I mentioned a little bit ago, shows footage of Alison, the kids walking around, leisurely in this yard and and my immediate impression living in 2022,

it was like, how amazing that they’re just going at that pace.

just not just as something about the speed at which they weren’t moving really struck me

was just like, she looks like she has life figured out going slow, totally present with our kids, big smiles on their faces. Not trying to make a show of anything.

Cliff: Like

Kyle: It’s it’s a world in and of itself. And, and you’re like, who wouldn’t want that?

Cliff: That’s a, that’s a wild place to be in your late twenties.

Kyle: Yeah.

29 years old with four kids. When John dies

dad,

he had to go to his funeral because of all the obligations in her life. And so at summer of 67, consider the societal context of the late sixties, 67, 68, 69. somebody connected this to, uh,

thing

that hadn’t occurred to me.

you know, religious contrast in 66, the cover of time magazine, uh, put his God dead on it and.

Cliff: you know,

Kyle: The content of that article is basically people thinking that

they’d been

taught to look in the wrong place and in an ostensibly Christian nation. Um, and this author made the point that for black artists, especially pursuing other systems of belief, became a way of rethinking one’s relationship with America.

So

take

all of that, a love Supreme and come out in 64, they’re sort of reinvestigating, renegotiating, what is a good life

and,

trying to build their own, trying to transcend the chaos and tumult, maybe not directly right there. I wouldn’t consider them political artists

at all.

Um, I wouldn’t say that anything that they did is on its face responding to the conditions of the day.

But I, I, I would characterize in thinking about when this came out, a lot of us as trying to elevate itself above the fray

of the times.

Cliff: Yeah. So I think it’s. Worth having that context to then understand. And then John died

Kyle: They

Cliff: reaching a place of, it seems like, you know, stasis with where they wanted to be and what they were doing.

And they were where they wanted to be and doing what they wanted to be doing. and you know, certainly she would have had more insight into John’s progression, which apparently, you know, they kept pretty quiet at the time, but I am glad that we have talked a lot about this record before we kind of came to this story.

So it had a little bit of of wind at its back, but you know, she, as I think any of us would like, uh, she went into a real bad

Kyle: Somebody said, what word means more bereft than bereft.

Cliff: Yeah. And, you know, without pushing too far into. this, I mean, she lost a lot of weight. Uh, and one of the things that stuck out to me though, was that she was using meditation as a way to try to deal with this, to the point where, you know, she was doing like 20 hour meditation sessions and like being away for sometimes days and weeks at a time, and like pushing too far, going too far away.

Um, and, um, and I’m only saying that because you can hear from the people who kind of talked to her around then, like, we saw her going too far away and that, that sort of resulted

Kyle: herself admitted,

I went beyond the extremes of what was thought to be humanly possible.

Cliff: Right.

Kyle: And I, I don’t know how or why

Cliff: we can’t imagine the intensity of that, but to then have her be introduced to someone’s. guru, Basically, um, such that she meets um, Swami Satchidananda and is able to move from where she was to receiving the teaches of a guru, which is a lot, even if you’re like, up man they’ll like goofiest Sedona ass vortex ass person.

Okay. Is still can’t walk right up to a guru. It’d be like, hand it to

Kyle: yeah. Even if you paid $10,000 for the plane ticket to do to cosplay seven years in Tibet,

and you’re like, ah, I’m ready.

narrator, they were not ready.

Cliff: So she pretty quickly is able to internalize whatever these teachings were.

But also I think it’s really important to know. that she herself talks about that time as kind of like, yeah, I got. free. I got free. Like in, when She

Kyle: said, what I personally experienced brought me face to face with God to go through everything that we’ve just described

in the lead up

and to characterize it in that way

is

utterly profound.

Cliff: Right. So, so then journey inside to Denada the record. The musical idea is a manifestation of what she’s learning and trying to share back with you as a result of everything that she has experienced here, which itself is somehow far more dense and deeper than seems possible within the given time. Like how, how did you absorb this so fully in order to then go create an artistic, non statement that basically recaptures what it feels like to let go and be free? How did you get on the other side of all this so quickly and be able to not only process something endlessly traumatic, but be able to turn around and go now actually I’m free and I’m going to help other people get free to here’s what it sounds like to be free. Like, Whoa. Okay. Um, okay. In like the way that you can connect with that in this record is shocking.

that’s the urgency or the, the, the, that’s the version of urgency that you can feel here is the light stop walking, stop, stop. I’ve been sitting in closets for weeks at a time. I’ve been talking to gurus. We have talked about it and I’ve understood: here. Just stop and listen. And like that

Kyle: it’s total Forrest Gump.

I just started running

and

I think I’m done running now. I’m going to shave my beard and I’m ready to tell you about it.

Cliff: But my favorite part about, about just running is like it it’s being done by a world-class musician. So it’s not like she checks her chops or her brains at the door and says, oh, none of that matters.

Kyle: It’s a, It’s a,

total. It’s hard to make it look this easy

Cliff: Yeah. And like, I, I,

Kyle: the, when you pay me for 30 years of experience to do 30 minutes of work, you’re paying me for the 30 years. Not that 30 minutes. This is that.

Cliff: This is exactly. That

Kyle: is

Cliff: the way that it manages to not be too serious about the idea that oops, maybe jazz is super serious and we should back off of it.

But also this is jazz and we’re playing jazz. Like that’s the thing that swirls around. And it’s the type of thing that like seeps into your neurons when you just lay down and listen to it in a way that is really difficult to convey or express until you just do it. And then you you have the feelings that me and you have had, it was just like, oh, oh, I caught myself humming the baseline.

Oh, I caught myself, uh, you know, mouthing the saxophone. all of a sudden you kind of like hit these little moments of it. And it, it turns up as these ways of recentering yourself It becomes almost deep breathing in and of itself to be able to kind of hear it in your brain and repeat it back in like that man, I’m not big on on like mysticism or whatever.

There’s something weird about that, dude. There’s so much packed into here that it freaks me out a little bit. It feels magic in a way that it really. shouldn’t And connects with me in a way that, that scares me a little bit, but also makes me feel really comfortable. but in a way we’re also, which we’ve been talking about, like the accessibility of this music itself is what makes it so sharable.

I told people about it this weekend. Like you, like you were mentioning, like all of a sudden, I find myself trying to tell people about, Hey, dude, who, next time you do that thing where you notice like, oh, oh, oh, I haven’t been breathing. Um, even a 10th of how deeply I should be breathing for the last, like, you know, six hours now.

my shoulders are up in my ears. all of my muscles are tight. this is like a muscle relaxer, but it does. So in a way where you don’t have to have experience with this to get it, you don’t need to understand what’s happening. Don’t need to love jazz, even, I don’t think. It’s possible you won’t like it, and I’m open to that possibility, I’m pretty hard pressed to imagine that someone who really dedicate some time and energy to this walks away and says that wasn’t worth it to me.

Kyle: Yeah. it’s

the inverse feeling of the same thing we described last episode with heart, where it’s like little queen is the record to make you learn, to love your jukebox again,

and, and,

songs and the pure pleasure of just writing a good three minute song.

This is like the experience of being in the suspended animation of not even joy, but the feelings beyond what the language of

words can do for you. if you’ve ever gotten all the way up to the tip tip top of your brain, when you’re watching a band play and you’re like, holy shit, it will never, I will never be more dialed in, in this area. if you want to try to pull that moment out into more than a millisecond, this is the, probably the number one record. I would struggle to find another entry point now for just not only jazz, but any number of like, Hey, you want to see what music can do? Check this shit out. I do think it’s worth pulling over the car for a second.

And w you know, we, we’ve

alluded

to Alice’s virtuosity and quickly I would run down the Wikipedia case facts like 32nd version for

born in the thirties in Detroit, grew up in a musical household. Her mother was a member of, uh, the choir at Mount olive Baptist church. Her half-brother was a jazz basis.

Her younger sister is Maryland McLeod who became a Motown sound songwriter. Um, she is the grandmother of the artist flying Lotus an incredibly proficient and unique musician in his own, right,

who

is worthy of his own rabbit hole. Big time.

Cliff: we might get there

Kyle: Please hit us up on the internet if you ever want to talk about flying lotus because, oh my God. I saw a flying Lotus, make everyone. 3d glasses at a music festival and experience his concert with essentially a screensaver coming right at your face. Um, so just different wavelength. This DNA is on. Um, so Marilyn McLeod, his grandmother wrote junior walkers walk in the night. Diana Ross’s love hangover and freedom pains.

I get high on your memory, uh,

which was famously sampled for the hip hop song. I get high. so Alice accompanied, Mount olive Baptist, three choirs on the piano at 16, she was invited to perform at the lemon gospel singers during the services at the, what was described as more active. Church of God and Christ.

she remembers those services as quote, the gospel experience of her life.

An

instance of devotional music. We gave her teenage self, the experience of unmediated worship at the collective level. So she felt the collective consciousness experience

in

the charge, like so many great musicians before and after her. Um,

Cliff: most of our problems with church are not the feeling you get from music. Yeah.

Kyle: it’s, everything around

it.

Um, With the encouragement of her father. Again, very supportive musical household, Alice pursued music, and started to perform in various clubs around

Detroit,

a bebop pianist, classically trained pianist schooled in grip in the school of bebop moved to Paris in the late fifties.

So very creatively, potent time, very creatively potent place studied classical music and jazz with bud Powell in Paris,

uh, where she worked as the intermission PNS at the blue note jazz

club in 1960.

So casual. Yeah,

somebody made the point because the music she would go on to make us so cosmic, so beatific, it’s easy to mistake her for somebody without rigorous musical training, but like hear us loud and clear. She was a sought after improviser. She was notable for her commitment to trance-like playing, um, and had a reputation for transcending, not interrupting or contrasting, but transcending the rhythms that her band leader established people who played with her, talked about how she had a natural inclination for the swing.

She just got it. Um, and you, you didn’t have to explain to her what to do. So she was sought after because people were like, oh, she’s good. And she’s almost effortless. Like good.

Cliff: Yeah. I mean, just to say it straight, like, I mean she replaced McCoy Tyner in John Coltrane’s group. in, you know, I mentioned this to you Kyle, like, I think it’s beautiful that in in the time after John passed that she continued to make music with the rest of that crew, just to eliminate any possible doubt.

We may have 50 years on looking in the past and going, okay. So like, you know, was that like, John’s love inter no, she wasn’t getting special treatment, uh, because the John found her sexy or she wanted to impress him or some ,uh, the, these are two absolute world-class musicians in a literal sense of that word, traveling the world to be the best at what they were doing.

and managed to find each other, and do something pretty wild. But yeah, I mean, the harvest, like something she had like recently learned, like at the point that she’s making this so everything that she does on the, on the piano and keys on other records, everything is truly impressive. She even sings later on in her life before she passes.

I think in the, um, maybe in the mid two thousands, she recorded something and even transitioned into vocals, which naturally you hear and go. Yeah, Okay. of course. That sounds great. Thanks so much.

Kyle: Yeah. I thing I think got posthumously released. so after the eighties, I believe she just stopped putting out music publicly altogether. And if there’s one person who’s like, I’m not going to deal with the trappings of recording contracts or the business or what, like all of this is useless to me wave of the hand, alice coltrane embodies all

Cliff: bad. Yeah. She said she’s off to be a life doula

Kyle: right.

Cliff: Yeah.

Kyle: We, alluded to, at the beginning of the episode, she sort of left it all behind to focus on

enlightenment

full-time.

So she leaves the house in long island moves to Los Angeles, opens the, the yoga and meditation.

Cliff: school

Kyle: And just like brings people to her. And it sounds like the setup for a cult leader, punchline, but she’s so pure of spirit and of expression. Like she has stayed very private for decades and decades. and things only started like she started to perform again publicly and release some music.

I don’t know, for 10, 15, 20 years before her somewhat recent. Uh, um, but, uh, a posthumous recording

from

her like school, a private recording just for the students of the, of this school, um, was recently released and the recording academy put out an article on it, talking about ha also had interviews with our kids and they said that they appreciated it because.

It was what it was like to be in the house. Like this kind of thing is the best sense of what it felt like to just grow up around it. Like it all just had a very spiritual, a theorial and enlightened sort of vibe. So if you don’t really get into the cheetah Nanda, and you’re looking for almost the kiddie pool version of that go for the end of life, quiet, spiritual, reflective, intended to be heard by no one outside of their tradition. sort of final issue recordings of Alice.

Are there any moments on the record musically that you want to call attention to? You know, we joked before we started recording, but it, it flows as one. Piece of music, one meditation so much that, like I got wrong, a lot of moments where I was like, oh, the thing in the middle of dah, dah, dah. And it’s like straight up,

not that song,

Cliff: Pharaoh Sanders in general is fun for me to focus on, on this record. I always appreciate he, the way he plays makes me feel like he always thinks he’s getting away with something like he’s coy as shit. I don’t know. He just shows me like, it just always kind of the way he like comes in at the end of a set of measures or some bars, and kind of like strolls up to the music and just like, yeah, I’m here.

Um,

Kyle: dude, the stopover Bombay

where

it’s like, duh, duh, duh, the baseline is. Like

kind of laying bricks at the beginning and he, he kind of spirals in on descending notes, like Mary Poppins

with an umbrella. It’s just like,

Cliff: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

he’s just

kinda like spawning

Kyle: whole thing does kind of have, I like this, this motherfucker,

Cliff: Yeah. Well, and so he’s, he’s definitely got more of that feeling than Alice does on any instrument where I’m listening. And so that’s, that’s always a fun one for me to focus

Kyle: on. his shoes hit the ground

a little heavier, so to speak. Yeah.

Cliff: Well, and by the time you get to ISIS and oh, Cyrus around like one of the moments that really did stick out to me like 3 0 7 or so into that track, um, Pharaoh Sanders comes in and just like, they, you know, they, at this point, we’ve already gone through a song called something about John Coltrane, which was as someone who is not a historian or an expert.

but. listened to a lot of John Coltrane. Like they’re making a very thoughtful and kind statement about his music in that song, Um, but from someone who, from a bunch of people who really loved him. Right. Um, but what, but, but 3 0 7 into ISIS and Osiris made me laugh out loud because of Pharaoh Sanders. Like we’ve finally edged into a little bit more of that Coltrane or into that John Coltrane, where, we’re, you know, several minutes in we’ve repeated some stuff,

we’ve kind of got this nice groove and everything’s feeling good.

And then there’s just like this atonal Tara dactyl screech that comes out of nowhere. That’s just like what the, and then it just like mutates into, oh, was that a note? That was a note. And it sounds right. What I always enjoyed in different parts, especially with some of the John Coltrane’s like later work where he let people get super.

weird. They like his avant garde newness would routinely become like, almost like fuzz on the woofer type stuff. Like just like, okay, someone’s turning the distortion knob in. They’re kind of having fun with the fringes of Sonics before they bring it back down into the key and do a killer run or something like that.

And so that was the one that really stood out to me as if the ghost of John Coltrane was still living in, you know, someone’s instruments and they’re having a good time. And he like pops out the other side of the saxophone and waves at three minutes. in like, I gave you the little atonal scream and then pops back in and they finish out the song.

But like, those are the types of moments to me. Like, yeah, that sounds almost stupid, but it ha there’s such a lighthearted feel to this. Once you let it get in your bones, that the moments that start sticking out to me during active listening are more. just these like, Oh, that was funny.

Oh, that’s funny. What happened?

there?

Kyle: I hesitate to call out every dissonant moment on the record. We’ve spent so much time describing as metadata and present. Um, similarly in something about John Coltrane, the first three or four minutes of that, it feels like, suspended animation. When you look back on somebody you’ve lost in your life, you have this sort of stuck in Amber feeling of like a warm memory of that person. Right. And it’ll stay that way forever. It’s a projection of that person and it captures that feeling so well, you know, the sort of stasis of the way you hold a memory in your spirit, you hold somebody else’s spirit inside of yours and then around four 20. it’s like, Hey, let’s check in with Pharaoh Sanders and he’s doing the full ass will Ferrell glass, case

of emotion, just like, and then it’s back into the CESA.

So I’m like, okay,

thanks buddy. I mean, it’s, it’s hilarious because Pharaoh Sanders is like an incredible inimitable sacks. One of the all-time greats

Cliff: literally inevitable, like literally

Kyle: Yeah. If you,

if you find yourself getting into jazz and anything that we’ve talked about or other sources you’re led to finally get you over the hump into being a jazz fan Pharaoh Sanders is absolutely

something that you should push into the same way that Charles Mingus and free jazz is eventually somewhere.

You should try. If you really love music, you know, you can put one foot in that hot tub and be like, Nope, absolutely not.

But Pharaoh Sanders is a great place to go. So we’re not trying to trivialize, but, but once you are fully familiar with it and aware, and you can look at the whole thing with loving kindness, there, there, is kind of a,

a silliness

Cliff: Oh, I

Kyle: mean it’s very much

a that’s the stages of

grief thing,

Cliff: Yeah. Yes.

Kyle: does get to a little bit of that delirium and you can read it as delirium one time and read it as mourning wail another time, you know, it just, you can sort of project onto it, whatever you want. And it’s great art in that sense.

Cliff: Yeah. I do think, although this isn’t the only way to get into jazz, uh, for, for people who maybe feel like they haven’t like, this is a good opportunity for you to get into this place that we’re kind of describing because when you, when you get enough jazz under your belt to sort of not be so bothered by what they’re trying to do all the time, you don’t think so much.

about it. You start to feel like, no, for real, they’re laughing on stage. They’re smiling. They’re making eye contact, the things they’re doing. They’re challenging one another. once they get to this level, especially the stuff when we talked about with miles Davis, he’s nearly antagonistic with how he plays.

Right. They’re talking to one another, they’re challenging one another in these moments in there, they’re doing lighthearted things because they’re also masterful, but they’re trying actively to elevate one another in those same moments. And they’re able to play music with a wink, Like whatever that actually feels like, like that’s what jazz can get into, in here.

It’s this very unique moment of being able to have that lightheartedness, but also be able to have that sitting on top of like a pool of deep seriousness and sadness. I mean, that’s. That’s not quite the type of combination you’ll get from jazz. Even when you get the best stuff, you’re going to tend to have something more like it’s sad or it’s intense, or it’s questioning, or it’s experimenting, or it’s, it’s going in a direction or something else.

Whereas this just sort of like brings everybody into the room in this close with the door. You’re here. This is as much as we’ve got in this room. This is the moment that we’re having in the room. We’ll never have this moment again. I mean, every listen to this record sounds like an individual, listen, that’ll never happen again, somehow, especially the more you give yourself to it.

And that is, it’s hard to convey the, the order of magnitude difference that this is from just when someone does good music and they do a good record. Like, all right, you nailed that concept. That idea. It was great nine out of 10, 10 out of. 10. Four and a half Mike’s whatever you know, you crushed it. But this one is like,

an artifact of something that will it’s. So it’s so perfect, it’s almost never going to be able to happen again. It feels like because how could it sit on the other side of that intense sadness, the way that it does? Like how could it possibly be positioned here? But that’s why I love it every time.

I think these thoughts I come back around, to like once again, we’re just sitting on meditation thoughts. We’re just sitting on the same thoughts over and over again. Why does it feel lighthearted and serious at the same time? Because it’s neither of those things.

Kyle: I, I had described it to you at one point as an infinity stone, it just always existed and it has an inherent.

It, it evokes that feeling for me, which is why I love that

there’s

that

track Shiva loca, which sent me down a whole rabbit hole. And we just kept like, holy shit. holy shit. Holy shit. When we were in messaging, um,

roughly

translates or evokes in some way to the cosmos we live in. Right? So in the midst of what is ostensibly a deeply personal and affecting

record, She finds a broader context to, to place this in. and in the Hindu tradition, there is a holy Trinity, the tremor T the Trinity of Supreme divinity, the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities. Um, and Shiva is the destroyer. So the, the own symbol of Hinduism is considered to have an illusion of the Trinity where the a U and M

phonemes

of the word are considered to indicate creation, preservation, and destruction, adding up to represent Brahmin, like, all right, there is a lot in her pursuing this study and it being a study where there’s like a lot to unpack period, right?

Giving words and images and stories

to

break. And to

physiological

cycles and naturally occurring things in the world. so Shiva is another rabbit hole. I would encourage you to like pause the tape and go down. Creation ends at the point, of

we’re Lord Shiva lives, essentially when manifestation is withdrawn back into the great void.

this is when Lord Shiva begins his Shiva tan dive, his famous cosmic

dance from his dance. The destructive energies are released and activated, uh, and that dismantles all of the creatures. in his benevolent aspects, he’s depicted as an omniscient Yogi who has an aesthetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with his wife Parvati and his two children.

and his fierce aspects. He’s often depicted slaying demons. He’s also known as out a Yogi Sheever regarded as the patron, God of yoga meditation and the arts. So there’s that whole thing of creation through destruction and like moving the universe forward by pushing through the great void was such a potent image for me of like, that’s what grief that’s the form that grief took for Alice was like the most cosmic thing possible is I have faced the great void and I’m in a, push it through, into the, the greatest creation possible.

And

there’s almost a thankfulness in that. Like if I had to be in this, if I had to go through it, like the, the great God Shiva, I.

I

have found my way, just like, dad’s an incredible lesson for me to take away and you can wrap it up and live, laugh, love cliche. It’s like when, when you’re going through hell, keep going.

But it’s, it’s,

more than that, you know, it’s like the two things can only exist with each other a little bit, and we’ll always be dancing with one foot on each side of that knife. So like appreciate when you have that cosmic balance. I’m grateful to have seen that executed

so beautifully here.

Cliff: Oh yeah. I’m sure there’ll be times like this again, in our existence on this planet, but one thing we can say everyone has experienced grief recently.

It is, it is the year 2022. everyone on this planet has experienced grief, uh, in the fairly recent. past. This is an opportunity for you to figure out how to allow yourself to be both created and destroyed, right? How to sit with this, enter into this moment where someone else was experiencing and then translating the depths of their grief into what it could mean for them and what their evolution was and how they can sit with it and learn and grow.

want to encourage you to do the same thing. Just use this record. Seriously, take us at face value as much as you can about it. Um, we try not to make overly big deals about, you know, listening to music and certain really specific context in order to be able to enjoy it or anything like that. But like, if you haven’t listened to this serious. let yourself process some of your grief with this music.

Sit, be quiet, lay down. Or, you know, get vertical, like I wanted to do, earlier, I guess, but like be still input this on and don’t move. Don’t do anything sit and let this come to you because there’s so much in this that I think you can only get by not trying to extract out of it but by actually just sitting with it, letting these things come to you and letting yourself kind of process what the spiritual moment was, for everybody on this record,

Kyle: I’d like to close with one parting thought that’s words that don’t belong to us.

I’ve

done so many other times in this episode, uh, Josephine Livingstone wrote the review for Pitchfork, which is a rare instance of me wanting to prop up a Pitchfork review, let alone end with it. but the writing of Josephine Livingstone in general is beautiful and transcendent and every word of this review will damn near bring a tear to your eye.

But the end of this review, I think closes better than any way that we possibly could. She did what

the

liner notes suggested. She laid on the floor of her apartment and meditated to this record. And she said, when I finally opened my eyes, a beam of sunshine flooded through my apartment,

like

the cascading harp at the center of the album, the sun beam seemed to say to me that art is the only thing that exists beyond death.

Shadows

don’t exist without light each defines the other Alice Coltrane made journey. And so cheetah Nanda from an in-between place amid the unlocatable flow of different emotions, different lives, different traditions. Coltrane’s music is a journey this record says and a destination, all of its own.

Kyle: Go to tunedig.com for your chance to win a free vinyl copy of the album we just covered. And follow us on Instagram and Twitter for even more info about the album, including playlist links to interesting articles and videos and even some stories that didn’t make the episode. Most importantly, though, please support your favorite local record store, concert venue, or buy merch from a band you love. Thanks for listening.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

SEASON 6

Season 6—featuring our most eclectic selection of albums yet—kicks off Friday, March 11, with new episodes every other Friday through July.

TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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FRIDAY HEAVY

For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.

SEASON 5

TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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TUNEDIG RADIO

SEASON 4

SEASON 3

SEASON 2

SEASON 1

BONUS TRACK EPISODES

Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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WHO WE ARE

We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.