Sound: 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." // 10
Lyrics: The only lyrics on the album appear at the end of Acknowledgement. The band chant the mantra "A Love Supreme" over and over again, to the tune that appears throughout the song. These words add beauty to the song, and make it more spiritual, exactly what Coltrane wanted to do with this album. // 10
Overall Impression: A Love Supreme and Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue are regarded as the best jazz albums ever. In my opinion, I prefer Coltrane, so A Love Supreme will always be my favourite. There is just something magical about this album, and every time I listen to it, it blows me away. 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. // 10