Monday, August 14, 2017

Destiny Muhammad plays Alice Coltrane, a musical libation and salutation

Destiny Muhammad, Harpist from the Hood treated her East Bay family fans to a concert celebrating the Sonic legacy of Alice Coltrane. The tenth anniversary year of her ascension, it is fitting for such tributes to take place, this one, the second this year. Her ensemble for this concert Sunday afternoon featured once again: Ranzel Merritt on tenor sexophone, Ruth Price on drums, Rebecca Kleinmann on flute, Giulio Xavier Cetto on bass and Laura Klein on piano.

There were two sets, the second was graced by the presence of Archbishop Fanzo King, Queen Mother King and other members of the Church of St. John Coltrane. Destiny, dressed in white with a beautiful coral colored robe. Near her harp was an altar with a photo of Alice Coltrane and a bowl of tangerines and a lit candle. There were two other altars on either side of the stage, candles lit, lilies in shallow bowls on white stands.

Ruth's drums in front of the acoustic piano -- Laura and Destiny directly across from one another and as they played, it was as if there were two Alices in this wonderland. Ranzel and Rebecca were directly in back on stools and bassist, Giulio was to Destiny's right. The intimacy of the musicians added to the tight arrangements and performance.

The Destiny Muhammad Project (minus Ruth).

Laura Klein

Ruth Price and Ranzel Merritt

Rebecca, Ranzel, Giulio, Ruth and Destiny (missing Laura). 

Destiny conducting

Taking a bow: Ruth, Laura, Ranzel
With compositions taken from three albums in her first concert this year at SFJAZZ, this concert also included Alice Coltrane's work from a McCoy Tyner album recorded on Blue Note. This was after her husband passed and Destiny said the work was almost a reconcilitation between the two artists who both loved John Coltrane.

The maestro shared stories like this throughout the hour and a half set. The full house whispered and shouted their appreciation as Ranzel channeled Pharoah Sanders, Ruth pushing and driving -- the two artists reaching heights we could only look on in awe. Destiny featured Laura often, Alice Coltrane first a pianist whose work spanned multiple traditions-- straightahead, blues and gospel . . . . the band rocked with Laura in the lead -- her hands all over the keyboard as her body traversed the space as well. When I walked in Giulio was laying the ground for the classic Journey into Satchinanda. On this and other tunes, it was lovely hearing Rebecca's additional interpretations.

John Coltrane bought his wife a harp, but made his transition before it arrived. Influenced by the harp, Destiny told us its influence on Coltrrane created what he called sheets of sound.

I think one of the songs Laura played was Turiya and Ramakrishna. Another was a song written when her husband died from music he'd started but hadn't completed. The song is called, Something about John Coltrane. When Destiny mentioned the selections some folks in the audience went wild.

Destiny closed wirh A Love Supreme, her lovely voice singing the recitation we were invited to repeat, which we did.

Upcoming Events:
Destiny Muhammad is performning in a Tribute to John and Alice Coltrane, Sept. 24 at Cafe Stritch in San Jose, 4-11:30 p.m.

All photos: Wanda Sabir

Here is a link to an interview with Destiny, followed by an interview with Ranzel on Wanda's Picks Radio, Wednesday, Aug. 9. 


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