All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

491

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Although this disc is relatively new in its packaging and 20-bit format, it enjoyed a popular run previously as one of the first Impulse CD reissues. The latest re-release is an attractive treatment: the original (first-rate) cover art is restored, the sound is markedly better, and John Coltrane's liner letter and poem are in a readable type size. So if there is any jazz fan on the planet who hasn't yet heard this one, now's the time. This is, of course, the "classic" John Coltrane Quartet at its generally acknowledged peak in 1964: the master himself on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and the multi-armed Shiva of jazz, Elvin Jones, on drums.

A Love Supreme, of course, is or should be on everyone's list of great jazz albums, or of great music period. It is a four-part suite about the spiritual journey. Coltrane links the music on the album to a spiritual awakening that began for him, he said, in 1957, (enabling him to give up drugs, or at least to begin to do so) and had steadily grown in intensity in the intervening seven years. The fourth part, "Psalm," is a musical setting of the poem / psalm / hymn entitled "A Love Supreme" in the liner notes. The only quibble I have with the 20-bit release is that "Psalm" was still not made a separate track on the CD; as on the first CD release, it remains tied to Part 3, "Pursuance." There is no reason for this except carelessness, since another great Coltrane suite, Meditations, now allows the listener to cue each of its five parts, instead of the vinyl-hangover two divisions of the original release.

What makes A Love Supreme great? Unlike many other suites, A Love Supreme has a real unity of theme and mood. The intention is noble, the tone passionate, the playing flawless. There are hundreds of fine jazz albums, many of which are aided by Mr. Coltrane's playing; A Love Supreme is a fine jazz album, and more. It reaches a depth of emotional power rarely sounded in jazz. Coltrane's playing is powerful, as it is elsewhere, and lyrical, as it is elsewhere, but nowhere else does the man reach such a fullness of both these qualities at the same time. In contrast to some of his later work, Coltrane on A Love Supreme is powerful without being violent and lyrical without meandering. Jones is stunningly powerful here, and yet never overshadows the leader. Tyner and Garrison take solo turns that match Coltrane's work in tone and embellish the whole structure.

Miles Davis began playing modal tunes in the late 1950s; Coltrane, of course, was there, and together they made the first great extended statement of modal jazz, Kind of Blue. A Love Supreme stands right with that work. If you can own only two jazz albums, these two are the ones to go for; if you have room for only one Coltrane album, this one should be it.

Track Listing: 1. Pt. 1 - Acknowledgement; 2. Pt. 2 - Resolution; 3. Pt. 3 - Pursuance / Pt. 4 - Psalm.

Personnel: John Coltrane: saxophone; McCoy Tyner: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.

Title: A Love Supreme | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Impulse!

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read UHHM CD/LP/Track Review
UHHM
by John Bricker
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Decoy CD/LP/Track Review
Decoy
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "The Other Side of Time" CD/LP/Track Review The Other Side of Time
by Gareth Thompson
Published: January 30, 2018
Read "Electroradiance" CD/LP/Track Review Electroradiance
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 1, 2018
Read "Use Your Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Use Your Imagination
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "async Remodels" CD/LP/Track Review async Remodels
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Aleka" CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "We Call All Times Soon" CD/LP/Track Review We Call All Times Soon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 2, 2018