491

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme 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.

Year Released: 1995 | Record Label: Impulse! | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "The Havana Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Havana Sessions
by James Nadal
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Everything's Gonna Be Great" CD/LP/Track Review Everything's Gonna Be Great
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 17, 2016
Read "A Moment In Time" CD/LP/Track Review A Moment In Time
by James Nadal
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Meditations" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!