Sample from the Winter 2006 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

An Interview with Ravi Coltrane

In the Fall issue of Integral Yoga Magazine we had an interview with Swami Turiyasangitananda (Alice Coltrane) and in this issue we’re delighted to include an interview with her’s and John Coltrane’s son, Ravi. A musician in his own right, Ravi also has become the keeper of the flame of his father’s great legacy.

Integral Yoga Magazine: As the son of two great musicians, and also two very deeply spiritual people, is spirituality an intrinsic part of your music?

Ravi Coltrane: I hope–whether it’s conscious or not–that it’s always a component of the music I make. We’re not making music for ourselves but hopefully as an offering to hopefully move people in a positive way. I don’t know if it’s because of the parents I have; it’s something I just feel internally. I have always felt music has this quality: nurturing, healing, uplifting. I never thought of music as a mechanical byproduct of sound but as a real force that can affect people in a positive way. I think it’s hard not to recognize that element of the soul and spirit within great music. Some music goes straight into your body, your heart and soul and is made with the idea of communicating these higher ideals.

IYM: Your mother said that she came out of a nearly quarter-century retirement to make her recent album, “Translinear Light” because of you. Why did you encourage her to do this?

RC: It made so much sense for me. It wasn’t a “new” idea. I could hear the sound of it years before it was recorded–what a modern Alice Coltrane would sound like and fortunately she had similar ideas. I felt driven to ask my Mom, “Please, there are so many who want to hear your music, your ideas. Let’s just do it.” I spend a lot of time traveling and for as many people who ask about John Coltrane, there are as many who ask about Alice Coltrane and what she is doing and if she’ll make a record or perform. I would constantly tell her that when I would get back from the road. Then, the opportunity presented itself to do this album–and I had some ulterior motives–I wanted to be on a record with my mom, so I could look back later and say, “This is what I did.”

IYM: What was it like to work with her?

RC: It was the highlight of my career as a working musician. She played great and it was an honor for me to be there and make sure it all went right. As her son, I know what she likes and what she wants to play and she’s very gracious and agreed to do things and I wanted to be there and keep her in the brightest light. I worked harder on that record than any of my own. It was a once in a lifetime experience so it had to be perfect. And, as a musician, all I had to look back on with my mom, was me just beginning as a musician and us on early gigs from ’87. I wanted to document this now, when I am more of a musician then when I was just starting out.

IYM: In the Fall issue of the magazine, we asked celebrities about the “myth of more.” What are your views on the “living in the material world?”

RC: The truest things in the world are the simplest things; while the things of the material world are very fleeting. One minute you have money and you’re important and the next minute, it’s the opposite. If you base a person’s value on what they have, it can be taken at any moment; there are higher pursuits in life. If my priority was to be rich and famous, I’d do something different than being a musician playing obscure jazz music! My priority is to make people happy through my music. We can look at history and see how we have been moved, how cultures have been moved, by great artists. That in itself is a huge value that goes way beyond monetary value. I would live as a pauper if I had the ability to express that type of power through sound. That kind of power can change people’s direction in life.

IYM: Did you always want to be a musician and what are the unique challenges to “following in the footsteps” of your late great father?

Read the rest of this article in the Winter 2006 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.