John Coltrane
A Love Supreme


5.0
classic

Review

by Jigglypuff USER (7 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 183 replies


Release Date: 1965 | Tracklist


The masterwork of saxophonist John Coltrane, A Love Supreme remains a cultural icon: a life-changing work of art that resounds on all spiritual levels. A four-part suite about faith and redemption, it is more than a statement of piety, more even than the beautiful music contained within. A Love Supreme inspired and defined a generation, who responded to Trane's message of universal peace and love; but you don't have to be part of the former hippie revolution or even know anything about religion to feel the power of the music. Only the most sullen athiest would not be moved by A Love Supreme, and no musician can deny this is one of the most formidable jazz quartets of all time: holding court with Trane is his student piano virtuoso McCoy Tyner, and the rocket-fueled rhythm section of bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. It is said that before making this particular album, Coltrane was spoken to by God; and after hearing A Love Supreme that rumour is not hard to believe at all.

A Love Supreme, Pt. 1: Acknowledgement (Coltrane) - 7:47
It's clear A Love Supreme is something special the instant you hear the dramatic opening notes of "Acknowledgement" - an awakening of sorts. The opening cadenza leads to Jimmy Garrison introducing the simple four-note theme of the album on his bass, which re-appears many times on various instruments and in different registers. Under a melodic piano intro, Jones lays down an Afro-Cuban groove while Garrison vamps and Coltrane takes an exceptionally long and expressive solo. Later in the piece, he leads the group in a vocal chant of "A love, supreme" to the tune of the opening bass line. The excellent timekeeping of Jones lends a hypnotic feel, similar to the quartet's work on "My Favourite Things" four years prior.

A Love Supreme, Pt. 2: Resolution (Coltrane) - 7:25
Garrison's unaccompanied ending segues into a short introduction, before the group launches into the hard-swinging bop of "Resolution". This second movement symbolizes the fury of commitment to a new path, and the group plays appropriately: Trane's intense, Eastern-flavoured theme is supported by Jones' furious fills and comping. Tyner, then Trane solo in turns; and their masterful licks show just how talented the group was to make a spontaneous, one-take album like this.

A Love Supreme, Pt. 3: Pursuance/Pt. 4: Psalm (Coltrane) - 17:50
The uptempo blues of "Pursuance" is introduced by means of a frenetic solo by Jones, which gives way to the dizzying syncopations of Garrison beneath Tyner and Coltrane. The longest jam also contains excellent extended soloes by both men, and in many ways it's not only the fastest and most tonally adventurous piece but the most pivotal: "Pursuance" represents actually attaining the goal itself. The best is yet to come, though, as Garrison takes a long, flamenco-inspired ending solo to bridge the final two sections of this one-take wonder.

"Psalm" is a very slow, dramatic and unique piece; played with no guidelines except a key and an approximate tempo, Coltrane "reads" the poem from the liner notes on his horn, in a very free and lyrical style. It has been said often that Coltrane's tone recalls the human voice, and it is hard not to be moved by his extremely vocal improvisations. The thunderstorm beneath him is created by Elvin on tympani, while Tyner and Garrison toil away in the low register. It's as if the heavens really did part to give us this beautiful piece, and the climax is simply amazing, when Coltrane intones the notes "All from God, thank you God; AMEN."

Personnel:
John Coltrane: Tenor Saxophone
McCoy Tyner: Piano
Jimmy Garrison: Bass
Elvin Jones: Drums, Percussion

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have seen God, and I have seen ungodly; and there can be no greater. It is, truly, A Love Supreme."



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nissos
March 14th 2004


3 Comments


I've always enjoyed A Love Supreme, but I think it's a bit overrated. There are better Coltrane albums out there, like Interstellar Space or some of the live albums like Live In Japan.

Another thing I could never understand is why people consider this album "avant garde jazz". Although there is some overlapping tonality throughout the album, it still sounds very melodic and inside.

I'd probably give the album a 4/5.

Jigglypuff
March 15th 2004


31 Comments


[QUOTE=Nissos]I've always enjoyed A Love Supreme, but I think it's a bit overrated. There are better Coltrane albums out there, like Interstellar Space or some of the live albums like Live In Japan.

Another thing I could never understand is why people consider this album "avant garde jazz". Although there is some overlapping tonality throughout the album, it still sounds very melodic and inside.

I'd probably give the album a 4/5.[/QUOTE]

"Avant-garde" doesn't necessarily mean "atonal". And even if you think there are better Trane albums you can't deny the cultural significance of this work.

Led_Zep_Bonham
March 15th 2004


16 Comments


Uh. Not avant-garde in any way.

However, it's a stunning album, although I prefer "Impressions" and "Live at Birdland". I've listened to this a ton and what still amazes me the most are McCoy Tyner's swashes of color on the keys - the man was truly a master.

~BirdsOfFires on Chrissies name.

Jigglypuff
March 15th 2004


31 Comments


[QUOTE=Led_Zep_Bonham]Uh. Not avant-garde in any way.

However, it's a stunning album, although I prefer "Impressions" and "Live at Birdland". I've listened to this a ton and what still amazes me the most are McCoy Tyner's swashes of color on the keys - the man was truly a master.

~BirdsOfFires on Chrissies name.[/QUOTE]

Sure, it was totally de rigeur to compose album-length suites in 1964. Now how about I hear Led_Zep_Bonham on Chrissies name?

Led_Zep_Bonham
March 19th 2004


16 Comments


Great review. My favorite jazz recording ever, and I suppose it could be called Avant-Garde.

Jigglypuff
March 19th 2004


31 Comments


[QUOTE=Led_Zep_Bonham]Great review. My favorite jazz recording ever, and I suppose it could be called Avant-Garde.[/QUOTE]

:cool: Much good karma on you.

Neocaeczaristic
March 19th 2004


1 Comments


Yes, yes, yes, I love this album. "Psalm" = ownage.

Jigglypuff
June 5th 2004


31 Comments


Is nobody else interested in this album?

Tangy zizzle
June 7th 2004


253 Comments


I'm interested in getting this album. I need more jazz in my life.

Distorted Vision
June 7th 2004


184 Comments


It was voted the second greatest jazz record ever (http://home.austarnet.com.au/petersykes/jazz100/) behind Kind Of Blue, I need to check it out soon.

Det_Nosnip
June 8th 2004


374 Comments


My personal belief is that God (or whatever the hell you want to call it) is in music, and whenever I want to back up my position, I cite albums like this one.

Tangy zizzle
June 10th 2004


253 Comments


I've now listened to this album.

It is sheer brilliance. A true masterpiece man, I love it!

Kingadamx
September 6th 2004


120 Comments


I have Giant Steps. I was going to buy this but the only version I can find around is the Ultra deluxe 2 disc special feature set which is like $30.

Tangy zizzle
September 6th 2004


253 Comments


This has got to be one of the finest recordings ever.

Kaden
September 6th 2004


222 Comments


It's waaay up on my to-get list, along with Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds of Fire".

Zappa sent me the opening track to the album, and it's excellent; I must hear the rest.

Zappa
September 6th 2004


355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I did?

Kaden
September 6th 2004


222 Comments


[QUOTE=Zappa]I did?[/QUOTE]
Yeah, remember? You sent me a whole folder of jazz songs, with other stuff in it like A Night In Tunisia, Giant Steps, Birdland, etc.

Good stuff.

Tomahawk
September 11th 2004


124 Comments


I just listened to this album for the first time. I really don't know anything about jazz, but I know that this album is friggin awesome.

I've barely heard any jazz before, never really been into it... but this has blown my mind open, and now I want more.

Zappa
September 11th 2004


355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't remember that, Kaden, no. Wow.

Tomahawk, if you have Soulseek or AIM, and I send you lots and lots of other jazz albums that you'd probably appreciate.

Well_Respected_Man
September 11th 2004


75 Comments


This sounds interesting I'll check it out.



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