Quantcast
metroactive logo

Tribute to Alice Coltrane at Tabard Theatre

In Music
JOURNEY IN: Oakland's Destiny Muhammad keeps the meditative, celestial sounds of Alice Coltrane alive in the Bay Area. (photo credit: Ken Hunt)

JOURNEY IN: Oakland's Destiny Muhammad keeps the meditative, celestial sounds of Alice Coltrane alive in the Bay Area. (photo credit: Ken Hunt)

When the late Alice Coltrane ran her hand along the harp’s 47 strings, it was as though the totality of existence vibrated with her.

“The whole vibration shifts upward,” says harpist Destiny Muhammad.

Since 2018, Muhammad has been performing tributes to Alice Coltrane, beginning with a moving performance at SF Jazz 11 years after the musician’s passing. This weekend, Muhammad comes to the Tabard Theatre to perform her tribute to the spiritual jazz master in an event presented by local Coltrane enthusiasts TraneTraxx Lounge.

“[TraneTraxx founder] Craig Bright saw me at that first tribute to Alice Coltrane and he was smitten. He said, ‘We gotta do it again, take it to the South Bay,’” Muhammad says. “When they realized that there was someone in the Bay Area who could do an interpretation of Alice’s works, I became that person.”

Though often overshadowed by her husband’s rightly-celebrated work, the music of Alice Coltrane is incredibly absorbing and spiritually rich, and features many of the musicians from her late husband’s last band, like saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and drummer Rashied Ali. In fact, the most distinctive mark of John Coltrane’s late period—his “sheets of sound” saxophone technique—was directly inspired by the flowing notes of Alice’s harp.

“He was literally doing his best to imitate what we call the ‘glissando’ on the harp,” Muhammad says, referring to a long, connected strum of the instrument’s strings. “He was enamored with the tonality of the harp.”

Muhammad herself has long been enamored with the instrument’s distinct sound. As a nine year-old living in Compton, she decided suddenly one morning that the concert harp was her life’s calling after watching Harpo Marx perform “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in an episode of I Love Lucy. It would be twenty-one years before she finally saw good on that goal—and even then it was a challenge.

“My first teacher, she was 29 and I was 30, and she was adamant that she was not going to teach me,” Muhammad remembers. “She said, ‘I don’t mess with the old ones. They don’t stick.’”

To convince her she would indeed stick, Muhammad promised her that she wasn’t just entertaining a passing whim—she wanted to create and release her own harp music into the world.

“It was ‘92, so the first CDs had just come out, and I said, ‘I want to do a CD, I want to write and interpret music.’ And she said, ‘Ok, then I’ll teach you.’”

Today, Muhammad’s two Soundcloud pages feature more than a decade of original harp music spanning a wide range of musical influences, from jazz and classical, to Celtic melodies, blues and pure glowing pop, as on 2019’s “All About You.”

But to get there, Muhammad had to start by paying her dues. After moving to the Bay Area, she began her professional career performing at farmers markets, funerals, baby showers and anywhere that would pay for a gigging harpist. Since, the self-described “Harpist from the Hood” has gone on to become an SF Jazz teaching artist, won awards from ASCAP and the Northern California Entertainers Music Awards, and even performed harp with Kanye West’s invite-only Sunday Service.

“I did four of those,” Muhammad says. “Kanye is clear about who he is. He knows that he is an on-going contradiction, and he does not care. There’s clarity in knowing that and being unapologetic.”

At Tabard, Muhammad and band will be performing works from some of Coltrane’s most entrancing albums as bandleader, like the hypnotic Huntington Ashram Monastery, and the transportative Journey in Satchidananda—both albums marked by Alice’s distinct fusion of Black American spirituality with eastern instrumentation and thought.

As for Muhammad herself, she says she’s just glad to be playing the instrument she’s always loved.

“I am unapologetically grateful to be doing this work,” she says. “After 29 years, I look forward to the next 129 years of seeing what musical majesty can come forth from this beautiful instrument.”

Tribute to Alice Coltrane
Sun, 7pm, $20
Tabard Theatre, San Jose

no comments
Add your comment

Back to top
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -
dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts -
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -
dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -