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 the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years. Recorded over two days in December 1964, Trane's classic quartet--Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison-- stepped into the studio and created one of the most the most thought ...
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 the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years. Recorded over two days in December 1964, Trane's classic quartet--Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison-- stepped into the studio and created one of the most the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship. From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical and emotionally varied soloing, while the rest of the group is completely atttuned to his spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression. "Acknowledgement" is the awakening to a spiritual life from the darkness of the world; it trails off with the saxophonist chanting the suite's title. "Resolution" is an amazingly beautiful, somewhat turbulent segment. It portrays the dedication required for discovery on the path toward spiritual understanding. "Pursuance" searches deeply for that experience, while "Psalm" portrays that discovery and the realization of enlightenment with humility. Although sometimes aggressive and dissonant, this isn't Coltrane at his most furious or adventurous. His recordings following this period--studio and live-- become progressively untethered and extremely spirited. A Love Supreme not only attempts but realizes the ambitious undertaking of Coltrane's concept; his emotional, searching, sometimes prayerful journey is made abundantly clear. Clocking in at 33 minutes; A Love Supreme conveys much without overstatement. It is almost impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it. ~ Sam Samuelson and Thom Jurek, Rovi
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ohn Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is a classic of American music in any genre. Recorded in 1965 on Impulse! the album features Coltrane's quartet consisting of Coltrane on tenor sax, Jimmy Garrison, double bass, Elvin jones, drums, and McCoy Tyner, piano. "A Love Supreme" is a highly-integrated, intense work of about 33 minutes in four parts titled Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, and Psalm. In its emotional depth, musical complexity, and spirituality, "A Love Supreme" takes jazz to an extraordinary musical level.
This music has deservedly become iconic even for listeners who know little about jazz or Coltrane. In its passion and wildness, it is music that shows its 1960s origins while surmounting them. This is highly spiritual music which Coltrane created after overcoming a long drug addiction. The religious character of the piece is apparent on even a casual hearing, but there is nothing sectarian in the work. The music is both personal and universal.
The work ranges from the meditative to the searching to the ecstatic. There are long, intricate and complex solos by Coltrane throughout, most of which vary a four-note phrase stated at the opening of the music and then chanted at the end of the first part as a mantra to the words "A Love Supreme." The work uses the entire range of Coltrane's sax and more as he overblows and shrieks to suggest his spiritual quest. The work ends with a slow Psalm, with Coltrane moving to a mystical close. Each of the quartet members also have incandescent solos in the work, especially the percussion of Jones in the second and third parts, Tyner's piano in "Pursuance" and Garrison's long bass solo which opens "Psalm." The third and fourth parts of the work tend to run together without pause as I hear them although some listeners hear them as separate, discrete sections.
I listen to and review a good deal of American classical music on Amazon. It offers insights into the American experience that sometimes are overlooked. Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is an inspiring masterpiece in a distinctly American art form. I loved revisiting "A Love Supreme" which stands easily with the best accomplishments of American art.
Jun 14, 2012
That's Coltrane for ya
I heard a treatment of "A Love Supreme" by someone else and liked it immensely. I had never heard the Coltrane original, and thought I should give it a go. This is what I don't like about Coltrane. Too squawky. Nice music, though, performed by someone else.