The death of John Coltrane left not only a musical, but a spiritual void among his many followers and admirers. By aligning himself with the searchers among the new generation, John Coltrane legitimized their quest and set a daunting standard of excellence for those who experiment outside the mainstream of modern jazz. Among those searchers was young Alice McLeod of Detroit, a virtuoso on the vibraphone, piano, organ and harp. John Coltrane had always expressed a fondness for the harp, and while young McLeod never did bring that instrument into the context of Trane's working groups, she did bring her rolling, ecstatic style of piano to bear in the saxophonist's last quartets and quintets as Mrs. Alice Coltrane. JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA, recorded in the fall of 1970, is a serene, composed meditation on the lessons of the 1960's, a mystical work of enduring sweetness and spiritual longing. The concluding cut "Isis And Osiris" (recorded earlier that summer at the Village Gate), is a global village of texture and song, animated by Pharaoh Sanders' gently wafting soprano and Rashied Ali's quicksilver brushwork, as Vishnu Wood's feathery oud, Charlie Haden's woody bass and Coltrane's sweeping harp combine to create a dreamy vortex of sound. The title cut and "Shiva-Loka"--centered around Cecil McBee's sonorous, lyric bass vamps and Tulsi's droning tamboura--are gorgeous evocations of modal jazz and Indian ragas, again exploiting the contrast between Sanders' reedy chants and Coltrane's blissful arpeggios. And then there's "Stopover Bombay" and "Something About John Coltrane," which reveal the melodious symmetry of Alice Coltrane's piano playing, a singular style deeply imbued in the old time testimonies of the spirituals and the blues.
Easily one of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing that at once compiled all of his innovations from his past, spoke of his current deep spirituality, and also gave a glimpse into the next two and a half years (sadly, those would be his last). Recorded at the end of 1964, Trane's classic quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison stepped into the studio and created one of the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship (not to mention his best-selling to date). From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical yet emotionally varied soloing while the rest of the group is remarkably in tune with Coltrane's spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression leading to an understanding of spirituality through meditation. From the beginning, "Acknowledgement" is the awakening of sorts that trails off to the famous chanting of the theme at the end, which yields to the second act, "Resolution," an amazingly beautiful piece about the fury of dedication to a new path of understanding. "Persuance" is a search for that understanding, and "Psalm" is the enlightenment. Although he is at times aggressive and atonal, this isn't Trane at his most adventurous (pretty much everything recorded from here on out progressively becomes much more free, and live recordings from this period are extremely spirited), but it certainly is his best attempt at the realization of concept -- as the spiritual journey is made amazingly clear. A Love Supreme clocks in at just over 30 minutes, but if it had been any longer it could have turned into a laborious listen. As it stands, just enough is conveyed. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without A Love Supreme having been made, and it is equally impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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