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Alice Coltrane “Blue Nile” (1970)

From the 1970 album “Ptah, the El Daoud” Alice Coltrane — harp, piano Joe Henderson — alto flute, tenor saxophone Pharoah Sanders — alto flute, tenor saxophone, bells Ron Carter — bass Ben Riley — drums This was Coltrane’s first album with horns (aside from one track on A Monastic Trio (1968), on which Pharoah Sanders had played bass clarinet). Sanders is recorded on the right channel and Joe Henderson on the left channel throughout. All the compositions were written by Coltrane. The title track is named for the Egyptian god Ptah, “the El Daoud” meaning “the beloved”. “Turiya”, according to the liner notes, “was defined by Alice as ‘a state of consciousness — the high state of Nirvana, the goal of human life”, while “Ramakrishna” is named after the 19th-century Bengali religious figure; this track omits the horns. The origin of the title of “Blue Nile” is self-explanatory, Coltrane switches from piano to harp, and Sanders and Henderson from tenor saxophones to alto flutes. “Mantra” returns to piano and saxes.

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