JOHN COLTRANE — A Love Supreme (review)

JOHN COLTRANE — A Love Supreme album cover Album · 1965 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
EatThatPhonebook
10/10

"A Love Supreme" is one of the most influential and important jazz albums ever.

This album has been praised over and over and over. It is considered by many to be Coltrane’s magnum opus and one of the most influential and important jazz albums ever. Who am I to give once again infinite gratitude to John, for giving music like this, but, for the sake of it, I’ll review it and make this a more personal review possible.

For the people who don’t know John Coltrane (hopefully not many), he was a saxophonist that has been considered one of the best jazz musicians. In his first period he was more into the Hard Bop genre, after a while he started getting a little more Avant-Garde, so the music was a lot more free and improvised thanks to the use of musical modes (also called modal jazz). “A Love Supreme” stands right in the middle of these two eras. However the album has many Post Bop influences too, so it is a little hard to give this only one label. Despite the album clocks around thirty minutes in length, the four tracks here have a very extended structure, on which Coltrane and the soloists lay some of the best and warmest sounds ever to be created. The textures are as well warm and have a very intense and spiritual feeling to them, just like John intended. Coltrane in fact was a very spiritual man, and “A Love Supreme” is a sort of concept album dedicated to God in all his power and generosity. But there is some very noticeable apocalyptic and sometimes tribal feel, (thanks to the percussion or the vocals on “Acknowledgement”) which makes this album a lot more Avant-Garde influenced.

If I had to pick one thing I love the most about this album, it has got to be the solos. Not only Coltrane, but also the pianist, McCoy Tyner, even the drummer Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison on the double bass. Every single solo from every single member, despite being improvised most of the time, is perfect and flawless, and delivers a spiritual and intense experience to the listener. Other than the solos, the melodies are memorable as well (here the Post Bop influence is most noticeable), whenever there is just a bit of melody.

The album is structured in four parts; in some versions there are divided in four songs, in others three (the last two parts united in one song). “Acknowledgement” is probably one of the most famous Coltrane pieces, if not the most famous. I have never felt seven minutes pass so quickly for a song. A track to die for, and a must listen for anyone who wants to get into jazz. “Resolution” is less warm but the melody is just wonderful, and then the solos are just perfect. Another flawless track. For the second part of the album, Coltrane wrote a religious poem and used music to express it, instead of the words. “Pursuance” is the longest piece (10 minutes), and it has the most amazing piano solo, it completely blew me away. The track contains a lot of drum soloing moments, especially and almost exclusively in the first part of the song. A bass solo is put in the last part of the track as well. There are, in fact, so many solos that there isn’t much room for any kind of melody. “Psalm” is less enlivened, more chilled, but also more melancholic. The melody is very sensual, but also rigorous and severe, as it wasn’t written for seducing but for getting closer to God. It has that apocalyptic feel thanks to the tom percussion, so it is probably the most tense song off the album. So this magnum opus ends, of course, amazingly.

One of my favorite jazz album of all time, and if you’re unfamiliar with the genre and you want to explore and discover it a bit more, this is one of the places you should start from.

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