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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Another stunning taste of Alice Coltrane's...

Under the Stars: Another stunning taste of Alice Coltrane’s genius, live

Plus: 'She Took My Drawers' wins TikTok, Kamasi Washington comes to town, Oakland Weekender looms, more music

The last time Alice Coltrane played in SF was at the Masonic Auditorium with her son Ravi was Saturday, November 4, 2006. I had a significantly paid DJ gig that night. 

My buddy Dave Aju offered me a ticket that I could have paid him back later for, but the rent (still too damn high) stared me dead in the eye. 

And not in a good way either.

Once again, I considered getting creative with those bills to see the composer, bandleader, Hindu spiritual leader, Flying Lotus Auntie, legendary performer, and the subject of many late-night discussions among my circle of DJs, performers, and booker friends. But I ‘rain-delayed’ on the opportunity, promising myself “next time, for sure.”

She passed on Jan 12, 2007.

This makes recently released Alice Coltrane: The Carnegie Hall Concert, recorded in February of 1971, a new and telling entry in an already dazzling career. Her set was strategically placed between performances from Laura Nyro and The Rascals. This concert benefit was in support of Swami Satchidananda’s Integral Yoga Institute. 

Alice Coltrane first encountered the Swami at the inaugural blessing at Woodstock. He informed the midpoint of her creative output from 1970-1972, which carried both cool meditative vibes and the fire and brimstone one can only assume extended from mental anguish and hardship.

No matter where it came from, once heard, it was impossible to forget.

Alice Coltrane delivered to the world exactly what John Coltrane, who passed on July 17, 1967, saw and heard in his wife: an exquisite musician. He replaced McCoy Tyner, his esteemed jazz pianist, and jazz royalty for that matter, with her immediately.

It was even John’s idea for her to pick up the harp. Talk about knowing your partner.

This found show is the first launch of the “Year of Alice,” described as a “year-long celebration of Alice Coltrane’s profound work” in collaboration with Verve Records and The John & Alice Coltrane Home.

It consists of four songs that speak to the many versions and different types of energy, very accessible in her wheelhouse. She plays harp on the meditative grooves that certain fans of hers are familiar with—as well as those with renewed interest: followers of young harpist Brandee Younger, Andre 3000 (now on the flute), and the resurgence of ambient music from electronic music producers, jazz musicians, or whoever is deciding to explore that space. This release, like all of Alice Coltrane’s releases, remains undefeated against time.

But it’s always been Alice Coltrane’s busyness that makes me choke while breathing. Strings, bass, and floating bells, rising in a hurricane. Charts that fluctuate from cheerful major to uncluttered minor. Igor Stravinsky meets Georgia Anne Muldrow—it goes down like that, and then some.

On the 30-minute powerhouse John Coltrane composition “Africa,” after all her talented musicians give their input, she throws up the Bat Signal, a thunking piano hand down, pointing to the work, commanding that thunder, making it clear in this come to Jesus, or whomever she’s worshipping at the moment, who is driving the train. Not Pharoah, not Archie Schepp. AC is in control.

That’s what her 1972 jazz-fusion, psychedelic rock, and radical symphonic document World Galaxy found. Plying the mighty Wurlitzer 805 Centura Organ, with the pitch-bending ability, she rips aggressive energy about like a wet towel, smacking up these dense vibrations. 

But that evolutionary recording comes after this concert.

Fam, you don’t even know how much I regret missing seeing her in 2006, but I’m pleased that this show has come to light, especially right now. Fans can piece together the varied sections of a solo career blossoming and make connections on how and why her music deeply affects the culture in a new century.

Buy it here.

But in the meantime…. It’s Under The Stars, babe. A quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes and thinking outside the margins.

Spiritual Jazz is a term. Alice Coltrane remains an everlasting energy.

DAVID LYNCH TRIBUTE SHOW AT 4 STAR THEATER, APRIL 6

“There’s a hidden world lurking beneath the surface, and it’s my job to unveil it,” is one of the most succinct and straight-up gangster quotes from the David Lynch repeatable cannon. 

His run of projects from 1977’s Eraserhead right up until Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me in 1992 distilled a new form of the heebie-jeebies to cinephiles all over the globe. 

You are freaked out and dammit, you can’t turn away. That’s art, baby.

It can inspire the most diverse types of projects. It’s at the root of a David Lynch celebration, put together by our Seablite, one the “dreamiest, poppiest bands” in SF,  the celebration is being held at the 4 Star Theater on April 6 at 7pm, which happens to be the landmark director’s birthday. What better way to honor the American filmmaker, painter, visual artist, musician, actor, and philanthropist than with a San Francisco-based dream pop bill, and a costume contest to boot?

Galine Tumasyan (from Seablite) explains: “It all happened after Lauren (Matsui) returned from watching our buddies Chime School play at the 4 Star Theater. She immediately texted me, saying how amazing and inspiring the venue was. The main words that triggered the idea were, ‘I feel like Eraserhead’s Lady in the Radiator is about to perform next.’

“Lauren and I are massive fans of David Lynch’s work, which highly inspires our art and music, especially in lyrics. Andy and Jen are also big fans of his work, and we often geek out about his films. The idea of creating an event where we could celebrate his work with music, film, and art in this wonderful space just made so much sense!

For this event, we mainly wanted to focus on David Lynch’s short films and his early work, but of course, not without highlighting the beloved classics. The visuals are a perfect backdrop for the dream pop bill that we put together. I have a big collection of Twin Peaks tribute art that I used to sell alongside Ashley Graham and Paul Guezzetta at the Twin Peaks Fest, which used to take place at the Balboa Theater. So, we wanted to bring back that element and have all the creators pay tribute under one roof.

Come take part in this unique and very San Francisco event that promises pop-up vendors with David Lynch and Twin Peaks art for sale.

Grab tickets here.

LENNY WILLIAMS, “SHE TOOK MY DRAWERS”

So this song, which describes a specific situation that the Oakland vocalist Lenny Williams pleads his case about, demonstrating how a particular type of soul song from a past era operates in our clickbait world.

Williams, known for the timeless jam “Cause I Love You” and as the former frontman for the almighty Tower of Power, has caused quite a stir on Black Twitter and various text chains I engage with, due to the highly popular “She Took My Drawers.”

Unc got busted.

In this revealing single, the 79-year-old paints a vivid picture: “She texted me a picture on my telephone/ She took my drawers/ She said she’s going to put it on TikTok and get a million views/ This girl is threatening me, y’all, to put it on the evening news/ She said she loves me/ She said she cares/ Why in the hell did she take my underwear?”

In addition to discussing the consequences of falling asleep in a hotel bed with a woman who is not your wife, the song goes into further detail, delineating those undergarments. Those draw’s are a gift from the adulterer’s wife, a symbol of love with photos on the front and back.

Those are interesting boxers you may not leave the house with no matter the occasion.

Yeah, the track is wild.

But this is a Millie Jackson, Richard “Dimples” Fields type of southern tell-all song.

It is doing much better than our fictional protagonist.

Keep your draw’s on people, you want them to avoid becoming a TikTok dance.

Oh, no.

KAMASI WASHINGTON AT THE WARFIELD, JUNE 7 AND THE CATALYST IN SANTA CRUZ, JUNE 8

When Kamasi Washington comes to town, jazz fans and music enthusiasts alike get excited. Not only because he is a generational figure, bringing modernity to America’s classical music. But it’s his band, that unforgettable front line that is just as powerful as Washington himself. Ryan Porter on trombone, Miles Mosley on bass, Patrice Quinn on vocals, Rickey Washington (Kamasi’s father) on flute and soprano saxophone, and Washington on tenor. Plus, is the funkster Brandon Coleman on keys too? It’s a jazz masterclass: a fantastic experience. Make sure to catch them.

He’ll be on tour supporting his new album Fearless Movement, which he’s designating as his “dance album,” although not in the traditional electronic music sense of the phrase.

 “It’s not literal,” he said in a press release. “Dance is movement and expression, and in a way, it’s the same thing as music—expressing your spirit through your body. That’s what this album is pushing.”

Pre-order the record here. and grab tix to the SF show here.

SOUL SUGAR, THE MAKINGS OF YOU (GEE RECORDINGS)

Guillaume Metenier’s collaborative Soul Sugar project has been one to check for time and again. It began in the late 2000s as an outlet for the organist and producer’s reinterpretation of ’60s and ’70s soul jazz by way of the Hammond organ. But with time, it manifested into something of a personal design. That combination hybrid where classic dub and reggae-inspired “versions” get elongated with the help of friends and other inspired musicians. This time around, with covers such as a neck-snapping take on Curtis Mayfield’s “Makings Of You,” gets reconceived as this unhurried lovers-rock dart, sung with the most delicacy by Leo Carmichael.

This is the type of treatment you can expect from Just A Little Talk.

Pre-order here.

OAKLAND WEEKENDER 2024 AT THEE STORK CLUB, JUNE 6—JUNE 8

Two years ago, 15 bands and three DJs joined together in solidarity to give a three-night showcase of what makes up the contemporary Bay Area indie-pop sound.

Well, make way for Oakland Weekender as it returns.

With a raucous line-up distilling some of the many buzz-worthy indie-pop bands from the Bay Area and beyond. 

People don’t need to hit the road to Seattle, Portland, LA, or New York City. From June 6-8, they will all be at Thee Stork Club for three festive nights.

If you’ve been tracking this movement, welcome to the ultimate feast for your ears.

The bundled 3-night pass comes with an Oakland Weekender t-shirt, poster, and a cassette tribute to The Velvet Underground featuring a cover song from each band on the roster.

Save the date also for the Oakland Weekender “Ice Cream Social” on June 5th also at Thee Stork Club. It’s a special evening with DJ Eric Bello of Yay! Records spinning for the night.

Check out the lineup below and grab tickets here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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