Friday, 14 August 2009

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965)

Whilst it's immensely difficult not to regurgitate a puddle of wiki accolades about 'A Love Soup-Ream' being 'generally regarded' as this and that; it's NOT immensely difficult to tell you that this is the best (well, one of the top three interchangeable) jazz, if-not-just-album albums of all time. This is what ALL jazz should have sounded like by 1965. Coltrane by this point had dropped hard-bop like a bad smell, a regime where the improvisation was restricted to the chord changes within a tune.
ALS is, according to a certain source, modal jazz. I am a layman but even I can tell this is so, with my lugholes. Modal jazz was like the next step to the misleadingly-named free jazz (aka musical masturbation) that Coltrane would spend the last few years of his life exploring. Since this form is often not completely 'free', let's just call it avant-garde jazz. Anyway, ALS only skirts this territory, and is a culmination of the new freedom that improvising within modes allowed. This requires great skill on the part of the soloists, since you have to know your scales and be really quite ingenious to come up with something as timeless as the Coltrane Quartet did here. Coltrane had been testing this methodology since at least 'Giant Steps' (a fringes be-bop classic that I'll upload), but on here you will notice a marked difference to those oldies. Recording this album, one of the greatest saxophonists of all time still had his audience foremost in mind, and that's why Coltrane spares us an outdated form of improvisation without disappearing completely up his own arse.

John is the bandleader of course, and in case you hadn't worked it out, plays tenor saxophone. The rest of the quartet for this beast of a session runs as follows:
Jimmy Garrison - double bass
Evlin Jones - drums
McCoy Tyner - piano

This is a no-frills 320kbps upload, remastered but minus the tiresome five discs of 'bonus' material ('ooh an alternate take! WOW').
If I can practically hum the entire four-part suite of this album from memory, then it's well within the realms of possiblity that other people will enjoy it.

Only known performance of 'A Love Supreme'. Hardly any footage survived, and it was apparently more dissonant that the LP rendition.

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