Coltrane's high water mark of spiritual searching, where `sheets of sound' and esoteric musicality merge with the spirit of the 60's beat/hippy influenced quest for inner knowledge, both free and yet beautifully structured.
As a drummer I've always enjoyed this album as much for the interaction of the sublime rhythm section as for Coltrane's own kaleidoscopic psychedelic explosiveness. I also love the endearingly off-key mumbling of the vocal refrain "A Love Supreme". Elvin Jones is just incredible, as are Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner (I saw Tyner in the early 90's in Cambridge, and he was still ploughing the furrow first broken by this band way back in the mid-sixties, and even then - as now - it sounded fresh, vigourous, vital, transformative, exciting).
Jazz isn't dead, it's there in the ether, waiting for you to connect with it (funny, how so much jazz went hand in hand with 'connections' of other kinds too). Coltrane and co really connect on this monumental recording, making this essential music, 'nuff said!
This album is often coupled with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue as one of the greatest undertakings in jazz history. The two albums have been jostling for superiority ever since they were rightly recognised as classics. While Kind of Blue has a understated elegance years beyond its time, it misses something that Coltrane's masterwork has in abundance- love.
My overriding experience of Kind of Blue is that it is probably the biggest "grower-onner" in music history; an album that just gets better and better and better. A Love Supreme however, captivated me from the outset. The bold opening tells us we are in for something special and it doesn't lie. The album just continues to soar, never letting up, never dropping.
Coltrane's suite was made with so much love that it if you don't fall for it straight away, there is probably something wrong with your CD player. I put it up there with Michaelagelo's sistine chapel, Wagner's Ring, and Kubrick's 2001 as one of the greatest artistic achievements in history.
So, when you feel like there is no love in the world, just stick this on nice and loud- awesome.
OK, it's 1964, and Bebop has come a long way. We are six years after Coltrane recorded Kind of Blue with Miles, and it would be another five years before Miles records the next milestone: In A Silent Way. Tunes seem to be getting longer and longer...and with A Love Supreme John Coltrane finally produces a recording that gives himself free rein to really explore the furthest recesses from seed ideas. This is a very spiritual album, there seem to be no constraints.
Most of the four tunes begin with a basic theme, which is quickly jettisoned as Coltrane's creative juices start to flow. There are some astounding sections on this CD, the musicians almost seem to be jostling for position at the mic, and yet they meld organically together. There are calm, meditative sections where we feel the gentle ebb and flow of notes between the players. There are parts where Coltrane's sax just 'goes' and blasts out a barrage of notes that are like a musical tsunami. We have emotive swells from McCoy Tyner's angular piano stabs elevating and pushing. Jimmy Garrison's nagging bass manages to add both urgency and solidity. There is some excellent effervescent and elastic drumming from the great Elvin Jones who manages the trick of creating and maintaining endless dynamic openings.
I have lost count how many times I have played this album over the years, but it still sounds fresh and new. The recording is Coltrane at the height of his powers, and the whole album boils over with invention. It may sound like a cliche, but it really does feel like a kind of spiritual roller coaster... immersive, visceral and exhilarating. Wow.