Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica (Capacity: 3,000)
1972 offered an amazing explosion of new music and “electronica” had spread throughout many genres to the point of being a requirement of sorts for bands that wanted to stay relevant.
I wasn’t introduced to jazz very much other than through my parent’s playing of Big Bands of the ‘40s and ‘50s which all white-bread homes had in their record collections. But after experiencing the truly fine examples of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s jazz-fusion, I became very open to jazz in general – and the new electrified sounds even more.
Herbie Hancock had just released “Crossings” an album that I really liked from first listening; long spacey pieces that took you on dream-like journeys and was great for a late night soundtrack to heady conversations.
This was the beginning, for me, of my appreciation for HH; soon there would be his classic Headhunters-era LPs and then the soundtrack to the iconic genre-igniting Charles Bronson film, “Death Wish”, then right on up to his monster award-winning MTV video and single “Rockit” – a technical and ground-breaking advancement with the use of “scratching” for the first time on a popular release!
From what I gathered, this was one of the last few sets that Thelonious Monk performed throughout 1972 – his final “live” LP as a group leader was in 1971 – and other than Lincoln Center (’72) and the Giants of Jazz tour (’75), Monk retired from the jazz scene until his death by a stroke in 1983.
I was not familiar with his music at the time but marveled at his unique style of piano playing. As I remember his set was fairly short, but it was a very cool enjoyable experience.
This brings us to the headliner of the evening; Alice Coltrane and the wonderful music from her new release, “World Galaxy”. She brought a whole new spirit and feeling to music with her electronic harp and for me this was not jazz-fusion, this was jazz restructured – music with a real cerebral, ethereal, spiritual sense from beyond.
The classic psychedelic album art was appropriately designed by Peter Max, the “Godfather of Psychedelia”, to let us know in what direction the music would bathe in.
In addition to the electronic harp, Ms. Coltrane also played piano and Wurlitzer organ.
As a devout Vedantic (Upanishads) follower, Ms Coltrane established an Ashram in 1983 in the general area where 00individual has spent the last 30 years. I never visited but the vibes were strong.
Our seats for the concert were center and to the left. I was so into the music that it took a while before I realized that my buddy and I were some of the very few white boys in the whole audience. You must know that even though the peace and love of the counter culture still held ground; after the Watts riots in L.A. in 1965 there was continued and justifiable resentment, to say the least, of the predominantly white Los Angeles Police Department and those racial tensions did not exclude us Hippies. Heck, we were getting it from all angles; parents, teachers, cops, the establishment and now with our Black Brothers – even though my empathy was with them, I was still white and therefore not to be trusted.
I bring all this up only to express an important point; we were there for the music that night, as was everyone else and “in the presence of music we are all brothers” which shows how music obscures, crosses and connects all lines of race; it’s the universal language!
And that’s one reason why music and marijuana go so well together; they both break down the ego and uplift the spirit! And to quote Clarence Williams III’s character Lincoln Hayes of TV’s Mod Squad, “Solid!”
Lineup: Alice Coltrane – percussion, piano, organ, harp, tamboura, Reggie Workman – bass, Ben Riley – drums, Elayne Jones – timpani, Frank Lowe : saxophone, percussion, Swami Satchidananda – voice, Leroy Jenkins – solo violin
Setlist: My Favorite Things, Galaxy Around Olodumare, Galaxy In Satchidananda, Love Supreme, Galaxy In Turiya.