Alice Coltrane had an enormous legacy to overcome in her late husband- her debut album, "A Monastic Trio" stuck pretty close to what John Coltrane's last bands were doing the studio, "Huntington Ashram Monastary" finds her branching out. Recorded in mid-1969, a year after her debut and two years after the death of her husband, Coltrane performs on piano and harp and is backed by bassist Ron Carter and drummer Rashied Ali.
Musically, it's a bit more relaxed than before, with Coltrane's playing a bit less dense and significantly looser. At its best, this looseness translates into inventiveness in ideas with Ali's gentle percussion and Carter's stunning virtuosity holding things nicely together-- the opener and title track is a good example of this-- Carter sets up a deep groove, Ali frames everything, and Coltrane and suprisingly nimble on harp. Likewise, "Paramahansa Lake" and "IHS" find Coltrane surprisingly inventive-- escaping the stereotypes of the harp on the former and playing in a bluesy, Monk-like piano on the latter, with Carter and Ali anchoring ("IHS" also features some superb arco playing from Carter).