IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
This week marked the 50th anniversary of the recording of one of the most important jazz recordings — perhaps one of the most important recordings of any genre – John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
The personnel on the album were Coltrane (saxophones), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (double bass), and Elvin Jones (drums). Legend has it Coltrane’s band had little idea what they would be doing when they arrived in the studio on December 9th, 1964… but Coltrane was on a mission. His goal was to make a recording that somehow captured the spiritual essence of the world’s religions. He once told Newsweek “My goal is to live the truly religious life and express it in my music.”
Today’s SotW is the first movement of the four-part suite – “Acknowledgement.”
Wikipedia describes the piece like this:
The album begins with the bang of a gong (tam-tam), followed by cymbal washes. Jimmy Garrison follows on bass with the four-note motif which structures the entire movement. Coltrane’s solo follows. Besides soloing upon variations of the motif, at one point Coltrane repeats the four notes over and over in different modulations. After many repetitions, the motif becomes the vocal chant “A Love Supreme”, sung by Coltrane (accompanying himself via overdubs).
This piece forms the musical foundation for the improvisational journey that continues from there.
Tyner once told NPR:
“I remember they cut the lights down kind of. The lights were dimmed in the studio. I guess they were trying to get a nightclub effect or whatever. I don’t know if it was John’s suggestion or whatever. I remember the lights being dimmed.”
Do yourself a favor – recreate that setting and find the time to listen to the entire 33 minute suite. Even during this busy holiday season it would not be a waste of time.
Enjoy… until next week.
This was the record that got me listening to a lot of jazz. Good highlight, Tom.
I’m not often in the mood but when I am Coltrane gets it done. I dunno, I like structure and I despise self indulgence. I know that even “free” jazz has structure but it’s often so esoteric that no mere mortal can discern it in the cacophony. The following tune not only gets me when I’m in the mood but GETS me in the mood.