Thursday, July 5, 2007

No. 47: A Love Supreme

Band: John Coltrane
Album: A Love Supreme
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: At the edge of spirituality comes Coltrane's
masterpiece. The four-part suite is nearly unparalleled as a jazz performance.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Jazz is not easy for rock and roll fans to digest and "A Love Supreme" isn't even that easy to digest for a jazz record.
Best song: It's basically one big song, though the first quarter of the suite
is probably the best.
Worst song: They're all pretty great.
Is it awesome?: Absolutely, but I'll refer you to my review of "Kind of

Coltrane's opus is a reflection on sprituality and it's actually quit effective
at that.

One of the great things is the progression of the record. The first track is to be an
awakening. It starts with the bassline that moves into the chanting by the end of the
track which then turns into the "Resolution." The "Resolution," a song about the fury of devotion, moves into "Persuance," a more comtemplative piece. It is all tied up in
"Psalm," a track which corresponds to the wording of a devotional the saxophonist
included in the liner notes. What's amazing is that Coltrane plays basically one note for each syllable of said poem, all the while basing his own musical phrasing on the words.

Coltrane made his hay mostly as a player in Mile Davis' and Thelonius Monk's bands and didn't come into his own as a composer until the mid-60s. "A Love Supreme" is the final of his classical quartet period and, by far, his best. It's incredibly moving and a must-have for anyone's collection.

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