Jazz AOTM: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme


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03-08-2008, 05:02 PM

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

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

Track Listing:

1. Part 1: Acknowledgement
2. Part 2: Resolution
3. Part 3: Pursuance
4. Part 4: Psalm

John Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone
McCoy Tyner – Piano
Jimmy Garrison – Bass
Elvin Jones – Drums

My choice for album of the month is simple. Coltrane's masterpiece is not only one of the greatest jazz albums, but it is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. A man at the peak of his creativity, Coltrane created an album of pure brilliance. All of his prior recordings build up to A Love Supreme, and his later albums explore his wildly experimental side. A Love Supreme inspired and defined a generation, who responded to John's message of universal peace and love.

Recorded in 1964 at the Van Gelder studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, A Love Supreme is a spiritual album, broadly representative of a personal struggle for purity. After overcoming a drug addiction, Coltrane wrote the album for God, although not necessarily the Christian God, as Coltrane's spirituality encapsulated many different beliefs.

Part 1: Acknowledgement
It's clear A Love Supreme is something special as soon as you hear the 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, 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.

Part 2: Resolution
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.

Part 3: Pursuance
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 solos 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.

Part 4: Psalm
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. He plays almost exactly one note for each syllable of the poem, and bases his phrasing on the words.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."

A Love Supreme is the perfect album to begin your journey into jazz. It will open your eyes to the beauty of the genre, and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

It is said that before making this album, Coltrane was spoken to by God. After hearing A Love Supreme, that rumour is not hard to believe at all.

03-08-2008, 05:07 PM
Dear Listener:
Let us pursue Him in the righteous path. Yes it is true; "seek and ye shall find". Only through Him can we know the most wondrous bequethal.
During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.
As time and events moved on, a period of irresolution did prevail. I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully, now and again through the unerring and merciful hand of God, I do perceive and have been duly reinformed of his Omnipotence, and of our need for and dependence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT... IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY -A LOVE SUPREME-.
This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say "THANK YOU GOD" through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.
May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain - it is all with God - in all ways and forever.
With love to all, I thank you,
John Coltrane

03-08-2008, 05:08 PM
^^ that's an excerpt of coltrane's liner notes.

this is a classic that I would hope all jazz fans have. the live performance in france is also exceptional

03-08-2008, 05:11 PM
the album was done in one take. It just shows how incredible these musicians were, both individually, and as a quartet

03-08-2008, 05:37 PM
indeed, one of the best albums ever. that was my first coltrane album :')

03-08-2008, 05:46 PM
it was my first jazz album. what an album to start with!!!

03-08-2008, 06:22 PM
coltrane was one of lisa's cats that died

just thought i'd put that out there

03-08-2008, 06:40 PM
yea this album was produced when Coltrane was tapped into a different plane of consciousness altogether... it is truly sublime

03-08-2008, 07:24 PM
To the person a few above: The deluxe edition comes with alternate takes.

Also, at the end of Psalm, another saxophone is heard - some say it's Archie Shepp's, who also plays on the alternate takes of Acknowledgment, but it may be an overdub.

Anyway it should be noted that many describe Coltrane's dramatic finding of religion to tend towards a decidedly pantheistic (which Dawkins describes as "merely sexed-up atheism" but he would) stance, not the Judeo-Christian God.

Every time I listen to this I hear so many new things. Elvin's drumming makes the record for me, while diminishing none of the other's contributions (they're all incredible)

03-09-2008, 05:43 PM
coltrane was one of lisa's cats that died

just thought i'd put that out there

to be honest, when i wasn't sure how to get into jazz, i figured that Lisa Simpson knows lots about jazz, so Coltrane would be a great place to start!

03-12-2008, 10:41 AM
that doesn´t leave this thread by the way!

03-15-2008, 03:17 PM
one of my favorite albums. its amazing. i also started listening to him because of the Simpsons. :haha but partially because he was on King of Blue. Lisa just made me pursue him further

03-27-2008, 03:50 AM
Free bump neil.

Gonna get this album too

03-27-2008, 05:48 AM
If I'm honest I much prefer his My Favourite Thigns ablum to this, a great album but not one of my favourites.

03-27-2008, 11:24 AM
Entirely separate from its standalone brilliance, what I find fascinating about A Love Supreme is it's place in the evoluton of the Coltrane Quartet, as they got freer and freer, it's right at a place that's still wild and fascinating yet listenable to the general public.


That's the quartet before the ALS, 1963 I think. Listen to the whole thing, you have to click on the next part after the bass solo to hear Coltrane's.


In 1965, again you have to click part b.

Post 1965, Wynton Marsalis says that what Coltrane was playing wasn't jazz. Of course I disagree, and I really like the music. People tend to look at you funny if you play it for them, unfortunately.