Alice Coltrane was a composer, performer, guru, and the widow of John Coltrane. Over the course of her musical life, she synthesized a wide range of musical genres including gospel, rhythm and blues, bebop, free jazz, Indian devotional song, and Western art music. Franya Berkman's book, Monument Eternal: The Music of Alice Coltrane (Wesleyan University Press, 2010), illuminates her music and explores American religious practices in the second half of the twentieth century. The talk by Dr. Berkman posted here focuses on ethnomusicological life history as a mode of inquiry in jazz studies, and the necessity of defining “a spiritual aesthetics" in exploring Alice Coltrane's work. It was recorded on Monday, March 28, 2011.
Franya Berkman was Assistant Professor of Music at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She passed away on August 26, 2012. The Center for Jazz Studies presents this video in memory of this superb scholar, lost far too soon.