Good Music We Can Know

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spiritual Jazz Obsession: Joe Henderson Featuring Alice Coltrane- The Elements (1973)


There's a lot about this album to make it special... not the least of which is that it features Alice Coltrane in a rare role as a sideman, on harp and piano. What else? Henderson's tenor is in the finest of forms (as it always is, including on Pete LaRoca's superb album Basra, featured here), trafficking in the kind of free-skronky, spiritually wild, high inspiration that Pharoah Sanders found on Alice Coltrane's Journey In Satchidananda (my favorite jazz record, probably).

Each track is named after and based thematically on one of the four elements, and for once a basic and often mediocre idea is executed in such a universal and inspired way that it really clicks, not just musically but also conceptually. The track "Water," an obvious highlight, finds Henderson treating his sax with a thrillingly mercurial effect, resulting in the aural impression of a saxophone being played under, through, or with water. It's delightful, but also fiercely experimental in the spiritual vein. This is one of the arguments for the incredible value of this period in time for spiritual jazz. This is one of the best records of its ilk. This is Jazz happening to the Universe! Brothers, this is the sound of Jazz Mattering.

ELEMENTS (320)

11 comments:

øשlqaeda said...

fine yob on this one strap, it is indeed a masterpiece as you so eloquently point out. 'journey' is my prolly my fav jazz lp too, or at least the slab that's seen the most play, & i'm certain we are not alone. we have multiple copies of this one in the family too. anyhu, you were linked from my spot owlready, but i wanted you to know in case ya mighta missed it. i am in yer corner. have a pleasant evening

Flash Strap said...

Much appreciation for the link, and for the avocation of Corner Inning. Having just finished scouring the entirety of your work at Holy Warbles, I can say: truly you have offered some of the finest droppings and crafted among the worthiest of all blogs throughout this Grand Ole Internet. May all Warbles be Holy, and may the heavens ring with praises for your generosity.

Everyone, Check out Holy Warbles!

Feq'wah said...

You've got a very nice place as well here...i've added you to my feeds.

Thanks!

nick said...

Hhaven't heard this in ages, so thanks for the reminder. Charlie Haden sounds great here, too. And on the gossip tip, I've also heard that Joe and Alice were an item before she hooked up with Coltrane. Yow. Do you know Henderson's Black is the Color? That's another mindmelter.

Flash Strap said...

To Feq'wah: Your spot is a dragon's cave worth visiting, and I do. Added to my own feeds, you are.

To Nick: Thanks for the hott gossippy fluid. This is a thing I like knowing, regardless of the truth of it.
I've actually been looking for a link to Black is the Color, as well as In Pursuit of Blackness... a link that is, "alive." Any clues? Hot tips? Handouts?

Thanks for coming here, all.

Yoo Hoo said...

Great Album! Thanks!

naftarsun said...

...wonderful, thank you....nice to see owl perched at the top...

Anonymous said...

waaaah.

John Hancotte said...

Many thanks for the link to this fusion classic. Joe's career is worth investigating, to say the least. Alice is a great side-person here, and I agree that Charlie Haden has possibly never sounded better to my ears. It sounds like his bass might have been recorded with a pickup, or at the least compressed, which gives it a brighter attack and more focused sound than I am used hearing from his able hands. I like it!

goinsidemyhead said...

I think this album tries too hard. or maybe reaches for another something else. after the violin solo, something changed and I tasted metal in my mouth... after the harp solos I wasn't surprised to hear a sitar droning or a Disney flute solo....a lot of excessive soloing...Alice's moments are lost, buried deep in a mass of overbearing support...what did you say about spirituality? I don't hear it. there's too much contrasting interplay, it approaches dissonance...its closer to deconstruction than spirituality at least by the sensibilities I'm picking up on but I'm so full of shit my head hurts...thanks for this 2010!!!!

Anonymous said...

CRAZY ! THAT WAS GOOOD !
RTHANKS FLASH STRAP FOR THIS BOW BLOW, WAS LOOKING FOR IT AROUND THE WEBBA.

SO GOTTHI SFOR ALICE COLTRANE FEAT. AND IT GOTTA SUM UP ALL ABOVE ALL THE MORE SOARING WHITE LIGHT THATS HER TOUCH STONE AROUND.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND NOT FORGET :"BEEP BEEP...WHO ? IS THE POLICE DADDY !"

ITALIAN CDR ARMY