A Love Supreme
|A Love Supreme|
|Studio album by|
|Recorded||December 9, 1964|
|Studio||Van Gelder Studio (Englewood Cliffs)|
|John Coltrane chronology|
A Love Supreme is an album by American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. He recorded it in one session on December 9, 1964, at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, leading a quartet featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.
A Love Supreme was released by Impulse! Records in January 1965. It was one of Coltrane's bestselling albums and one of his most critically acclaimed. It is widely considered his masterpiece, as well as one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
A Love Supreme is a through-composed suite with four parts: "Acknowledgement" (which includes the oral chant that gives the album its name), "Resolution", "Pursuance", and "Psalm". Coltrane plays tenor saxophone on all parts. One critic has written that the album was intended to represent a struggle for purity, an expression of gratitude, and an acknowledgement that the musician's talent comes from a higher power. Coltrane's home in Dix Hills, Long Island, may have inspired the album. Another influence may have been Ahmadiyya Islam.
The album begins with the bang of a gong (tam-tam) and cymbal washes on the first track, "Acknowledgement". Jimmy Garrison enters on double bass with the four-note motif that lays the foundation of the movement. Coltrane begins a solo. He plays variations on the motif until he repeats the four notes thirty-six times. The motif then becomes the titular vocal chant "A Love Supreme", sung by Coltrane accompanying himself through overdubs nineteen times. According to Rolling Stone, this movement's four-note theme is "the humble foundation of the suite".
In the fourth and final movement, "Psalm", Coltrane performs what he calls a "musical narration". Lewis Porter calls it a "wordless recitation". The devotional is included in the liner notes. Coltrane "plays" the words of the poem on saxophone but doesn't speak them. Some scholars have suggested that this performance is an homage to the sermons of African-American preachers. The poem (and, in his own way, Coltrane's solo) ends with the cry, "Elation. Elegance. Exaltation. All from God. Thank you God. Amen."
An alternative version of "Acknowledgement" was recorded the next day on December 10 with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp and bassist Art Davis. This version omitted Coltrane chanting "a love supreme"; he preferred the quartet version with the chant, placing that on the issued album. The only live recording of the "Love Supreme" suite is from a performance at the Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes in Juan-les-Pins, France, on July 26, 1965. On October 29, 2002, the album was reissued as a remastered deluxe edition by Impulse! Records with this live performance and the alternate takes on a bonus disc. A further iteration with yet more studio breakdowns and overdubs was issued as a three-disc complete masters edition released by Impulse! on November 20, 2015.
Reception and legacy
|All About Jazz|||
|And It Don't Stop||A–|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Penguin Guide to Jazz|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Tom Hull – on the Web||A+|
Released in January 1965 by Impulse! Records, A Love Supreme became one of the most acclaimed jazz records, and contemporary critics hailed it as one of the important albums of post-war jazz. By 1970 it had sold about 500,000 copies, far exceeding Coltrane's usual sales of 30,000, although it never charted on the Billboard 200. It has since been regarded as Coltrane's masterpiece and is "without question Coltrane's most beloved album", according to Robert Christgau, who adds that it "cemented 'Trane's divine status in Japan".
A Love Supreme was widely recognized as a work of deep spirituality and analyzed with religious subtext, although cultural studies scholars Richard W. Santana and Gregory Erickson argued that the "avant-garde jazz suite" could be interpreted otherwise. According to music professor Ingrid Monson of Harvard University, the album was an exemplary recording of modal jazz. Nick Dedina wrote on the Rhapsody web site that the music ranged from free jazz and hard bop to sui generis gospel music in "an epic aural poem to man's place in God's plan". Calling it a "legendary album-long hymn of praise", Rolling Stone said that "Coltrane's majestic, often violent blowing (famously described as 'sheets of sound') is never self-aggrandizing" and that he is "aloft with his classic quartet", "soar[ing] with nothing but gratitude and joy" on a compelling journey for listeners. The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (1985) said that "each man performs with eloquence and economy", while calling the album "the masterpiece from the quartet's studio work", "the first comprehensive statement of Coltrane's spiritual concerns", and "the cornerstone of many Coltrane collections". On the other hand, jazz critic Tom Hull said that he has not much considered the album "spiritual" but rather "the most perfectly plotted single piece of jazz ever recorded".
A Love Supreme has appeared frequently on professional listings of the greatest albums. In 2003, it was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time; maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. NME ranked it number 188 on a similar list ten years later. The manuscript for the album was included in the National Museum of American History's "Treasures of American History" collection at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2016, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance." It is Coltrane's second album to be included after Giant Steps in 2005. It was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It was voted number 85 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000). Based on such rankings, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists it as the 61st most acclaimed album in history.
According to Joachim-Ernst Berendt, the album's hymn-like quality permeated modern jazz and rock music. As Christgau explains, the record was "adored by American hippies from the Byrds and Carlos Santana on down, and served as theme music to Lester Bangs's wake at CBGB". Musicians such as Joshua Redman and U2, who mention the album in their song "Angel of Harlem", have mentioned the influence of the album on their own work. Both Santana and fellow guitarist John McLaughlin have called the album one of their biggest early influences and recorded Love Devotion Surrender in 1973 as a tribute. "Every so often this ceases to be a jazz record and is more avant-garde contemporary classical," said Neil Hannon of the band The Divine Comedy. "I love the combination of abstract piano that's all sort of 'clang', and weird chords with wailing saxophone over the top."
In The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Richard Cook and Brian Morton gave A Love Supreme a rare "crown" rating but asked whether it was "the greatest jazz album of the modern period..or the most overrated?" Miles Davis, Coltrane's former bandleader, said the record "reached out and influenced those people who were into peace. Hippies and people like that". Jazz critic Martin Gayford later elucidated Davis' comments: If a listener is "in the mood", he wrote, "it's majestic and compelling; if you're not, it's interminable and pretentious." In Gayford's own appraisal for The Daily Telegraph, he argued that it "marked the point at which jazz—for good or ill—ceased for a while to be hip and cool, becoming instead mystical and messianic". Christgau, writing in 2020, said, "it's meditative rather than freewheeling, with each member of his classic quartet instructed to embark on his own harmonically mapped excursion and the title set to a chanted four-note melody you could hum in your sleep. I'm on my fourth consecutive play with no signs of tune fatigue as I write, plus my wife loves it. All true, all remarkable. But how much you value it, I expect, depends on how much faith you place in your own spirituality." He concluded that the next time he will listen to the album "may well depend on who dies when".
All tracks composed by John Coltrane and published by Jowcol Music (BMI)
- Side one
|1.||December 9, 1964||90243||Part 1: "Acknowledgement"||7:47|
|2.||December 9, 1964||90244‒7||Part 2: "Resolution"||7:22|
- Side two
|1.||December 9, 1964||90245‒1||Part 3: "Pursuance"/Part 4: "Psalm"||17:53|
2002 deluxe edition
- Disc one
|1.||December 9, 1964||90243||Part 1: "Acknowledgement"||7:43|
|2.||December 9, 1964||90244‒7||Part 2: "Resolution"||7:20|
|3.||December 9, 1964||90245‒1||Part 3: "Pursuance"||10:42|
|4.||December 9, 1964||90245‒1||Part 4: "Psalm"||7:05|
- Disc two
|1.||July 26, 1965||n/a||Introduction by André Francis||1:13|
|2.||July 26, 1965||n/a||"Acknowledgement" (Live)||6:11|
|3.||July 26, 1965||n/a||"Resolution" (Live)||11:36|
|4.||July 26, 1965||n/a||"Pursuance" (Live)||21:30|
|5.||July 26, 1965||n/a||"Psalm" (Live)||8:49|
|6.||December 9, 1964||90244‒4||"Resolution" (Alternate take)||7:25|
|7.||December 9, 1964||90244‒6||"Resolution" (Breakdown)||2:13|
|8.||December 10, 1964||90246‒1||"Acknowledgement" (Alternate take)||9:09|
|9.||December 10, 1964||90246‒2||"Acknowledgement" (Alternate take)||9:22|
The Complete Masters (2015)
- Disc 1 – The Original Stereo Album, Impulse! AS-77
- "Acknowledgement" – 7:42
- "Resolution" – 7:20
- "Pursuance" – 10:41
- "Psalm" – 7:05
- – Original Mono Reference Masters
- "Pursuance" – 10:42
- "Psalm" – 7:02
- Disc 2 – Quartet Session, December 9, 1964
- "Acknowledgement" (vocal overdub 2) – 2:00
- "Acknowledgement" (vocal overdub 3) – 2:05
- "Resolution" (take 4/ alternate) – 7:25
- "Resolution" (take 6/ breakdown) – 2:13
- "Psalm" (undubbed version) – 6:59
- – Sextet Session, December 10, 1964
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 1 / alternate) – 9:24
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 2 / alternate) – 9:47
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 3 / breakdown with studio dialogue) – 1:26
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 4 / alternate) – 9:04
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 5 / false start) – 0:34
- "Acknowledgement" (Take 6 / alternate) – 12:33
- Disc 3 – Live at Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes, July 26, 1965
- Introduction by André Francis and John Coltrane – 1:13
- "Acknowledgement (Live)" – 6:12
- "Resolution (Live)" – 11:37
- "Pursuance (Live)" – 21:30
- "Psalm (Live)" – 8:49
Disc 3 is included only with the "Super Deluxe Edition" version of this release.
The John Coltrane Quartet
- John Coltrane – bandleader, liner notes, vocals, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
- Jimmy Garrison – double bass
- Elvin Jones – drums, gong, timpani
- McCoy Tyner – piano
- Archie Shepp – tenor saxophone on alternate takes of "Acknowledgement"
- Art Davis – double bass on alternate takes of "Acknowledgement"
- Rudy Van Gelder – engineering and mastering
- Bob Thiele – production and cover photo
- George Gray/Viceroy – cover design
- Victor Kalin – illustration
- Joe Lebow – liner design
- Erick Labson – digital remastering (CD reissue)
- Kevin Reeves – mastering (SACD)
- Michael Cuscuna – liner notes, production, and remastering (deluxe edition)
- Joe Alper – photography (CD reissue)
- Jason Claiborne – graphics (CD reissue)
- Hollis King – art direction (CD reissue)
- Lee Tanner – photography (CD reissue)
- Ken Druker – production (deluxe edition)
- Esmond Edwards – photography (deluxe edition)
- Ashley Kahn – liner notes and production (deluxe edition)
- Peter Keepnews – notes editing (deluxe edition)
- Hollis King – art direction (deluxe edition)
- Bryan Koniarz – production (deluxe edition)
- Edward O'Dowd – design (deluxe edition)
- Mark Smith – production assistance (deluxe edition)
- Sherniece Smith – art coordination and production (deluxe edition)
- Chuck Stewart – photography (deluxe edition)
- Bill Levenson – reissue supervisor (SACD)
- Cameron Mizell – production coordination (SACD)
- Ron Warwell – design (SACD)
- Isabelle Wong – package design (SACD)
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- 1965 in jazz
- "Angel of Harlem" – a 1989 U2 song referencing the album
- A Love Surreal – an album by Bilal
- Blue World, an album recorded between Crescent and A Love Supreme released in 2019
- Concept album
- Love of God
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