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All the tracks have been re-mastered by Rudy Van Gelder, who's currently immersed in a restoration programme for much of his old engineering work. This disc is taken from a flawless 1965 master discovered in EMI's London vaults, without the compression or equalisation found on previous CD releases.
Disc two's showpiece is a recording of the only time the suite was performed live in its entirety, at the sixth Antibes Jazz Festival in 1965, where Coltrane was the crowning act. Although previously available in bootlegged form, this is its first authorised release. It might be heretical to say this, but the live entity poses a serious challenge to the studio original. The recording quality is surprisingly immediate, and the extended work-out is like a fresh draught of a favourite potion. It might not be as studied and refined as the studio version, but Coltrane's blowing has a fearsome, brutal edge, particularly once the tenor-drum battle with Elvin Jones erupts during "Pursuance", the leader's controlled howling scraping out his horn's smooth throat-lining.
From Coltrane's own reference tapes, there are also two alternative takes each of "Resolution" and "Acknowledgement", the latter featuring bassist Art Davis and tenor man Archie Shepp, with the latter's contributions sounding somewhat scrappy and hesitant. It's plain to see why these takes weren't used, but they still provide a fascinating insight, tape drop-outs and all. -Martin Longley
All previous CD reissues have had a nasty tinny quality to Elvin Jones's cymbal sound, and Coltrane's tenor sounded hard and ugly. Even the Impulse 24 bit remaster was horrible.
This re-issue is gorgeous -- even if you own this recording, unless it is on anything other than pristine vinyl :-), it is well worth a re-purchase.
The bonus is that the live French recording (the only time Love Supreme was played as a suite live) is both sufficiently different and exciting to sometimes make the choice of which version to listen to a problem.
As most reading this will know, the studio version is tracked by a full live rendition (issued independently on CD in 2000) from the Antibes jazz festival 1965. You need to check that out too, and the remastered Impulse recordings -- based on new master tapes released in October 2002 -- are perhaps the best place to begin. But you might be intrigued by this, dense compressed version, which is all we had from the studio until more recently.
Wherever you start, 'A Love Supreme' still retains the capacity to surprise, entice and delight even the most over-taxed ears; surely a true testimony to its greatness. Winnowing sax, uncomplicated melodic sophistication, subtle modal delights, percussive ingenuity (not just from the drummer) and a spirit of blazing but well-tempered spiritual passion make these inter-twining tracks what they are: wholly entrancing.
To add to the delight of discovery there is also a new book which helps to fill in the background to the album, the era that witnessed its birth and the creative force behind it. ‘A Love Supreme: The Creation of John Coltrane’s Classic Album’ by Ashley Kahn (Granta Books 2002 (ISBN: 186207545X), has a Foreword by percussion legend Elvin Jones. It is full of information and insight, of course. But it is best to begin with those magical notes...
An unfathomable amount of development has taken place in the jazz world since this extraordinary work was recorded, of course. But it still retains the capacity to surprise, entice and delight even the most over-educated ears; surely a true testimony to its greatness. Winnowing sax, uncomplicated melodic sophistication, subtle modal development, percussive ingenuity (not just from the drummer) and a spirit of blazing (but well-tempered) spiritual passion make these inter-twining tracks what they are: wholly entrancing.
As if all this wasn’t enough, there is also a new book which helps to fill in the background to the album, the era that witnessed its birth and the creative force behind it. ‘A Love Supreme: The Creation of John Coltrane’s Classic Album’ by Ashley Kahn (Granta Books 2002 (ISBN: 186207545X), has a Foreword by percussion legend Elvin Jones. It is full of information and insight, of course. But nothing can surpass the sonic delights so lovingly re-mastered on this CD. The story is, above all else, in those notes and in the personality and atmosphere that reveals them to be something inexplicably transcendent.
The music on the album itself is powerful not just for Coltrane's playing itself but also for the fanatical interplay of the quartet. 'Acknowledgement' opens with Garrison's passionate bass line, leading into Coltrane's dynamic and ingenious playing, the quartet's spirited performance like a fervant, untamed emotion that has gripped them all. 'Resolution' blazes from the record with Tyler burnishing the track with some brilliant playing of his own. Jones's frantic drumming comes to the fore on the opening of 'Pursuance', a track where the meaning of 'Chasin' The Trane' becomes self-evident as Garrison, Tyler and Jones follow in hot pursuit of their leader's furious joy. Tyler's playing is again compelling as the quartet trade notes with such alarming velocity before Garrison's bass tip-toes and leads us like the pied-piper to the concluding 'Psalm'.
It's refreshing in this day and age to hear an artist whose sincerity and integrity shines through his work.