From Coltrane to Hancock, explore the history of spiritual jazz with this 12-hour mixtape

Jazz music is a multifarious beast. From the relaxed grooves of cool jazz to the off-kilter energy of free jazz, the genre has been warped and reinterpreted many times since its inception in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

spiritual jazz playlist

Ever wanted to get into spiritual jazz? Explore the history of the genre with this 12-hour mixtape from London online radio station NTS.

Spiritual jazz is one of the lesser known appendages of the jazz realm. Pioneered by the legendary John Coltrane in the 1960s, the movement saw artists challenging conventions of the genre while simultaneously seeking spiritual transcendence through their music.

The genre essentially started in 1965 with Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, an intriguing album that was presented as a four-part suite containing four tracks. The album opened the door to a new world of jazz, which was as much about feeling as it was about technique or style.

Inherently entwined with jazz’s African-American roots, spiritual jazz artists toyed with elements of free jazz, African and Indian music, and experimental music.

“Rather than the Tin Pan Alley standards, modal explorations, and cool poses that previously defined the genre, there was now chaos, noise, and tumult to be found,” Andy Beta says of the genre. “And amid the disorder out on the street and on the bandstand was also a quest for a spiritual centre, a search for communion with the divine.”

If you’re looking to explore the realm of spiritual jazz, this mixtape from London online radio station NTS’ is the perfect place to start. Split (fittingly) into four parts, the epic 12-hour playlist covers everyone from Coltrane to Sun Ra to Herbie Hancock.

Originally put together by Black Classical in 2012, NTS made the playlist avaliable for streaming late last year. It’s a wonderful listen. Get deep below.