The 50th Anniversary of 'A Love Supreme'
The 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme recording session is approaching. This phenomenal record album has been an international jazz cult classic for decades. As well as a popular counterculture album of the 1960s.
Coltrane's Journey into Eastern Mysticism
John Coltrane experienced a profound spiritual awakening in 1957. And several years later he explored the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and the Kabbala.
Consequently, Coltrane's interest in East Indian classical music, East Indian spirituality, and East Indian philosophy resulted in an unquenchable desire to express aspects of those principles in his jazz compositions.
Hence, the banging of a gong at the beginning of A Love Supreme, the chanting of "A love supreme," and those incredible four-notes repeated like an incantation or mantra throughout the suite reflected an unwavering commitment to his spiritual practice.
The 'A Love Supreme' Workroom
The second floor guest room of John and Alice Coltrane's Dix Hills home served as his creative sanctuary. And this was where the disconnected sections of A Love Supreme were fused together. Coltrane worked on the project for three months.
In the album liner notes, Alice Coltrane, his second wife, confidante, and musical collaborator indicated he only left the room to eat.
'A Love Supreme' Recording Session
John was a night owl. Thus, the recording session for the A Love Supreme album took place on December 9, 1964, in the evening. At Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Bob Thiele was the record producer and Van Gelder was the recording engineer for the recording session.
Coltrane's quartet consisted of McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on base, and Elvin Jones on drums at the recording session.
What's more, the quartet performed sections of the A Love Supreme suite at clubs prior to the recording date.
The 'A Love Supreme' Album
The A Love Supreme composition was divided into four parts: 1) Acknowledgement, 2) Resolution, 3) Pursuance, and 4) Psalm.
Coltrane selected the photograph for the album cover which depicted a serious and focused demeanor etched across his face. Most notably his hair was longer than usual.
The album foldout included a poem and letter written by John Coltrane. Along with a portrait of the saxophonist by Victor Kalin.
Coltrane's poem gave thanks to the Creator and his letter discussed his spiritual revelation, backsliding, and recommitment to his spiritual path.
Accordingly, Impulse Records released the album around February 1965.
VOTE ON YOUR FAVORITE COLTRANE ALBUM
The Town of Huntington purchased John and Alice Coltrane's home in Dix Hill, Long Island, and gave it to the Friends of Coltrane Home (www.thecoltranehome.org). A New York based nonprofit organization. Incidentally, Ravi Coltrane heads the organization.
The nonprofit is committed to building a museum on the site dedicated to John and Alice Coltrane's musical legacies.
1. A Love Supreme album liner notes.
2. 'A Love Supreme' Comes Alive in Unearthed Photos, by Patrick Jarenwattonanon, March 28, 2014, http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme.
3. John Coltrane re http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Coltrane.
4. 'A Love Supreme' Still Revealing Truths 50 Years Later, by David J. Kurlander, September 12, 2014, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/9/12/coltrane-rules.
5. Coltrane Slept Here, by Valerie CotSalas, December 2, 2007, nytimes.com
© 2014 Irma Cowthern
Irma Cowthern (author) from Los Angeles,CA on November 17, 2014:
Thank you so much. The first time I heard "A Love Supreme," I was very touched by John Coltrane's reverence and devotion to God.
NONI OLABISI on November 17, 2014:
Excellent and Great research on the subject of John Coltrane's reverence to God , the intense focus on God, his dedication and the discipline it took to create an outstanding album called " A Love Supreme ". It bought a deeper respect and understanding to my listening. Which makes me love this album just that much more..... Much Respect to you. and Thank You..............