A Love Supreme

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A Love Supreme
A blue-tinted black-and-white photograph of Coltrane's face looking to the left, with the logo "A Love Supreme/John Coltrane" written in white bold Arial across the top.
Studio album by John Coltrane
ReleasedJanuary 1965 (1965-01)
RecordedDecember 9, 1964
StudioVan Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
ProducerBob Thiele
John Coltrane chronology
A Love Supreme
The John Coltrane Quartet Plays

A Love Supreme is a 1965 studio album by American jazz saxophonist and bandleader John Coltrane. He recorded the album with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones in one session on December 9, 1964, at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

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. Some critics consider it his masterpiece, as well as one of the greatest albums ever recorded.


Elvin Jones in a black suit performing behind a drum kit
Elvin Jones (pictured in 1976)

A Love Supreme is a 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.[1] Coltrane's home in Dix Hills, Long Island, may have inspired the album.[1] Another influence may have been Ahmadiyya Islam.[2]

The album begins with the bang of a gong (tam-tam) and cymbal washes. 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.[3] Near the end of the song, the piano stops playing first, and after a few measures, the drums and cymbals stop playing also. Garrison plays the four notes several times before playing the descending notes. Then he plays the ending riff that leads to the second part of the suite.

In the fourth and final movement, "Psalm", Coltrane performs what he calls a "musical narration". Lewis Porter calls it as a "wordless recitation".[4] 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 a homage to the sermons of African-American preachers.[5] The poem (and, in his own way, Coltrane's solo) ends with the cry, "Elation. Elegance. Exaltation. All from God. Thank you God. Amen."[6]

A Love Supreme was categorized by Rockdelux as modal jazz, avant-garde jazz, free jazz, hard bop, and post-bop.[7]

Other performances[edit]

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. The alternate version is available on the Complete Masters Super Deluxe edition released by Impulse! on November 20, 2015.[8]

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. In 2002, the album was remastered and released by Impulse! Records on a double CD with additional studio outtakes.

John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana began their 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender with a cover version of "Acknowledgment" under the title "A Love Supreme".

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
All About Jazz5/5 stars[9]
AllMusic5/5 stars[10]
Down Beat5/5 stars[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[12]
MusicHound Jazz5/5[13]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz5/5 stars[14]
Q5/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[18]

Released in January 1965 by Impulse! Records,[19] A Love Supreme became one of the most acclaimed jazz records,[20] and contemporary critics hailed it as one of the important albums of post-war jazz.[21] It has since been regarded as Coltrane's masterpiece,[22] and by 1970 it had sold about 500,000 copies, far exceeding Coltrane's usual sales of 30,000.[23] Colin Larkin called it, "one of the most profoundly moving records in all of jazz".[24] According to music professor Ingrid Monson of Harvard University, the album was an exemplary recording of modal jazz.[25] 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".[26] Rolling Stone called it a "legendary album-long hymn of praise" and stated, "the indelible four-note theme of the first movement, 'Acknowledgement,' is the humble foundation of the suite. But Coltrane's majestic, often violent blowing (famously described as 'sheets of sound') is never self-aggrandizing. Aloft with his classic quartet...Coltrane soars with nothing but gratitude and joy. You can't help but go with him."[27] It 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.[28]

According to Acclaimed Music, A Love Supreme is the 61st most frequently ranked record on critics' favorite lists.[29] In 2003, it was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time;[27] NME ranked it number 188 on a similar list ten years later.[30] The manuscript for the album was included in the National Museum of American History's "Treasures of American History" collection at the Smithsonian Institution.[31] In 2016, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance."[32] It was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[33]

According to Joachim-Ernst Berendt, the album's hymn-like quality permeated modern jazz and rock music.[34] Musicians such as Joshua Redman[35] and U2,[36] who mention the album in their song "Angel of Harlem",[37] have mentioned the influence of the album on their own work. Guitarists John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana called the album one of their biggest early influences and recorded Love Devotion Surrender in 1973 as a tribute.[38] "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."[39]

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". In a lukewarm retrospective review, Martin Gayford from The Daily Telegraph 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". If a listener is "in the mood", he wrote, "it's majestic and compelling; if you're not, it's interminable and pretentious."[22]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by John Coltrane and published by Jowcol Music (BMI)

Original LP[edit]

Side one
No. Recorded Take number Title Length
1. December 9, 1964 90243 Part 1: "Acknowledgement" 7:47
2. December 9, 1964 90244‒7 Part 2: "Resolution" 7:22
Side two
No. Recorded Take number Title Length
3. December 9, 1964 90245‒1 Part 3: "Pursuance"/Part 4: "Psalm" 17:53

2002 deluxe edition[edit]

Disc one
No. Recorded Take number Title Length
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
No. Recorded Take number Title Length
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)[edit]

Disc 1 – The Original Stereo Album, Impulse! AS-77
  1. "Acknowledgement" – 7:42
  2. "Resolution" – 7:20
  3. "Pursuance" – 10:41
  4. "Psalm" – 7:05
 – Original Mono Reference Masters
  1. "Pursuance" – 10:42
  2. "Psalm" – 7:02
Disc 2 – Quartet Session, December 9, 1964
  1. "Acknowledgement" (vocal overdub 2) – 2:00
  2. "Acknowledgement" (vocal overdub 3) – 2:05
  3. "Resolution" (take 4/ alternate) – 7:25
  4. "Resolution" (take 6/ breakdown) – 2:13
  5. "Psalm" (undubbed version) – 6:59
 – Sextet Session, December 10, 1964
  1. "Acknowledgement" (Take 1 / alternate) – 9:24
  2. "Acknowledgement" (Take 2 / alternate) – 9:47
  3. "Acknowledgement" (Take 3 / breakdown with studio dialogue) – 1:26
  4. "Acknowledgement" (Take 4 / alternate) – 9:04
  5. "Acknowledgement" (Take 5 / false start) – 0:34
  6. "Acknowledgement" (Take 6 / alternate) – 12:33
Disc 3 – Live at Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes, July 26, 1965
  1. Introduction by André Francis and John Coltrane – 1:13
  2. "Acknowledgement (Live)" – 6:12
  3. "Resolution (Live)" – 11:37
  4. "Pursuance (Live)" – 21:30
  5. "Psalm (Live)" – 8:49

Disc 3 is included only with the "Super Deluxe Edition" version of this release.


Close-up, worms eye-view of McCoy Tyner at a piano, backlit
McCoy Tyner played piano throughout both sessions for A Love Supreme

The John Coltrane Quartet[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]


  • 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)


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[43] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kahn 2002
  2. ^ Hammer, Juliane; Safi, Omid (12 August 2013). The Cambridge Companion to American Islam. Cambridge University Press. pp. 285–. ISBN 978-1-107-00241-8. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  3. ^ Porter, 231–249.
  4. ^ Porter, 244.
  5. ^ Porter, 246–247.
  6. ^ Porter, 248.
  7. ^ Casas, Quim (December 23, 2015). "A Love Supreme". Rockdelux (in Spanish). Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Porter, 249.
  9. ^ Spencer, Robert (1997). "John Coltrane: A Love Supreme". All About Jazz. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. ^ Samuelson, Sam. "A Love Supreme Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  11. ^ Janowiak, John (April 8, 1965). "A Love Supreme". Down Beat.
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "John Coltrane". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  13. ^ Holtje, Steve; Lee, Nancy Ann, eds. (1998). "John Coltrane". MusicHound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN 0-8256-7253-8.
  14. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette. Penguin Books. p. 225. ISBN 0-14-015364-0.
  15. ^ Fiander, Matthew (2015). "John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (The Complete Masters)". PopMatters. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  16. ^ "A Love Supreme". Q. October 1995. p. 136.
  17. ^ Wolk, Douglas, "John Coltrane" in Hoard, Christian and Nathan Brackett, eds (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Fireside Books, pp. 182–185.
  18. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 47. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  19. ^ Anon. (2007). "A Love Supreme". In Irvin, Jim; McLear, Colin. The Mojo Collection (4th ed.). Canongate Books. p. 48. ISBN 1-84767-643-X.
  20. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. "John Coltrane". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th. ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 273–4. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
  21. ^ Anon. (1982). "John Coltrane". Black Music & Jazz Review. Vol. 5. p. 25.
  22. ^ a b Gayford, Martin (November 9, 2002). "Sublime - if you're in the mood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  23. ^ Porter, 232.
  24. ^ Larkin, Colin (1994). Guinness Book of Top 1000 Albums (1 ed.). Gullane Children's Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-85112-786-6.
  25. ^ Monson, Ingrid (2008). "Jazz: From Birth to the 1970s". In Koskoff, Ellen. The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Routledge. p. 359. ISBN 0415994039.
  26. ^ "A Love Supreme (Bonus Tracks) by John Coltrane". Rhapsody. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  27. ^ a b Staff. RS 500: 47) A Love Supreme. Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  28. ^ Santana, Richard W.; Erickson, Gregory (2008). Religion and Popular Culture: Rescripting the Sacred. McFarland & Company. pp. 78–81. ISBN 0786435534.
  29. ^ "John Coltrane". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  30. ^ Kaye, Ben (October 25, 2013). "The Top 500 Albums of All Time, according to NME". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  31. ^ "A Love Supreme". National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  32. ^ "National Recording Registry Recognizes 'Mack the Knife,' Motown and Mahler". Library of Congress. March 23, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  33. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 albums you must hear before you die (Rev. and updated ed.). New York, New York: Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  34. ^ Berendt, Joachim-Ernst (2009). The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century. Chicago Review Press. p. 152. ISBN 1613746040.
  35. ^ "The A Love Supreme Interviews" (Joshua Redman discusses John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme"), on Jerry Jazz Musician Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ Palmer, Robert, "A Tribute to John Coltrane's Spirit", The New York Times, September 25, 1987.
  37. ^ Kahn, xxii.
  38. ^ Stump, Paul (2000). Go Ahead John: The Music of John McLaughlin. SAF. p. 65. ISBN 9780946719242.
  39. ^ Thornton, Anthony (November 1998). "Neil Hannon's Record Collection". Q (146): 67.
  40. ^ "Saint John Coltrane: Fifty Years of 'A Love Supreme'". religiondispatches.org. December 8, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  41. ^ Jarenwattananon, Patrick (March 28, 2014). "A Love Supreme Comes Alive in Unearthed Photos". NPR.
  42. ^ "British album certifications – John Coltrane – A Love Supreme". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type A Love Supreme in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  43. ^ "American album certifications – John Coltrane – A Love Supreme". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 


External links[edit]