Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (Deluxe Edition)

John Coltrane
A Love Supreme (Deluxe Edition)

Released 2002 on Impulse!
Reviewed by zmnathanson, 28/01/2009ce

It is still one of the most essential landmark jazz albums, everything on A Love Supreme is a work of beauty, salvation, and a welcome to everyone who opens the door to a world of a discovery that you never see. These four tracks of the suite for Coltrane's exploration of his problems that he was going through and the journey that was about to go through the beginning of A Love Supreme. After Miles Davis kicked out Coltrane in 1956 out of his quintet, he joined up with Pianist Thelonious Monk in 1957 to do Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane and the famous live recording at Carnegie Hall including rare live performances at the Five Spot in New York City.
After he left Monk, he got cleaned up from his Heroin Addiction and rejoined the Miles Davis quintet in 1958 until the beginning of the early '60s after releasing classic albums like; Milestones and the jazz album of all jazz albums, Kind of Blue. He knew that it was time for a change after releasing Giant Steps and My Favorite Things. He was still getting ready for a change and how the next album was going to sound a little different than just a swinging feel than Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington the early days of the late '20s and '30s. He brought in pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrisson, and drummer Elvin Jones at the Van Gelder studio in New Jersey. At the Studio on a cold and christmas night in December, 1964, they decided to do the whole thing in one night. Thus, the introduction of a Love Supreme.
The album itself has liner notes from John Coltrane himself, a spiritual poetry and praising god to help him clear away his demons of his drug addictions he had in his early days. The album has a combination of Free Jazz meets Bebop in a combining force.
The opener 'Acknowledgement' starts off as a welcoming from Coltrane's sax to give you a head start. And then, it goes into a Modal Jazz mode as the quintet follows the tempo of raw tour de force technique from the group. 'Resolution' begins with Jimmy Garrison's stand-up bass introduction from the first suite as it goes into a dynamic swinging mode as Coltrane does an indian-relative sound on the sax while Tyner lays down on the midsection of the bridge with an explosive piano solo while Coltrane and Elvin duke it out like Titans in the ring in Pompeii and then goes back into the beginning and closes it with Coltrane and Tyner giving a climatic ending.
Elvin Jones fiery drum solo introduction on 'Pursurance', is exhilirating for the first minute and 32 seconds as the band comes in doing a fast uptempo mode with Tyner's framework on the piano and Garrisson's walking bass line like a speed demon. This time, imagine Coltrane lets them take over the piece as he watches them in awe as a trio piece blowing the door so hardcore, that they knew that the day has come. Coltrane comes in with a wild solo as he wails the sax like crazy as a car going 500 miles and not stopping on the beat second by second. But the main highlight is the late Jimmy Garrison as he does a spanish like music sound on the acoustic bass on the number as he walks and strums the strings in the last 3-minutes of the track.
The closing finale 'Psalm', is based on the poetry from the album as it gives a funeral/mourning sound from Coltrane's sax as it sings the poetry. Elvin's playing a tympani on this piece as it gives a sinister sound while Tyner and Garrison fill the void of poetry and calling out to the Lord. It sounded like as if the angels are hearing Coltrane's call with this number as the final liner notes of the poetry reads:

"God breathes through us so completely....
So gently we hardly feel it...yet,
It is our evening.
Thank you, God.
All from God.
Thank you, God. Amen."

If you think the first album on the first disc is a classic, there's more. The second disc features the only live performance of the entire piece of a Love Supreme in July, 1965 at the Paris jazz festival Core D'Atzur. The pieces were long and the sextet were now in a huge territory. At the time, the group were playing the suite in its whole glory. There was a mixed opinion of this recording from the audience because they wanted to hear him do My Favorite Things, Blue Train, or Giant Steps. But listening to the live recording, you can tell that this wasn't just a Jazz show, it was a moment for the audience to either enjoy or hated. The second disc also features rare alternate takes of Resolution and Acknowledgement featuring Archie Shepp and Art Davis as if they were almost trying to follow the steps of Coltrane in these magnificent takes. If you really want to get into John Coltrane's music, this is the album to get you started

Reviews Index