Music Monday: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 14/250

a-love-supremeTitle: A Love Supreme
Artist: John Coltrane
Year: 1965
Position: #72 (Previously: #61)

Now that I am jobbed I won’t be able to do two albums a week so I am going to try and still do one a week, but listening to Nicole Atkins and EMA on repeat isn’t really helping this.

One thing that only just dawned on me is that this is the first jazz album that I have looked at for this blog. I know some may count Frank Sinatra here but this is different.

John Coltrane is one of the few names in jazz that I had actually heard of, although it’s a sad fact that this is now my jazz knowledge completely used up and anyone I now encounter will be greeted with a resounding ‘who the hell are you?’ (apart from Miles Davis). Either way, it is nice to know that my knowledge of him has been rewarded with a thoroughly good jazz album. Coltrane knows how to balance the complexity of a piece so that it’s not completely overwhelming whilst not making it too sparse so as to induce a coma. He wants to create a mood and he will find the perfect combination of instruments to make this a reality. This is the truest on ‘Psalm‘, the closer and my favourite track on the album, is backed with a smattering of cymbals and ends on the rolling of some great drum.

A lot of these classic jazz albums tend to have some running theme, or a message that they are trying to send such as Duke Elliington tried to in ‘Black and Tan Fantasy‘. This is something I only because a teacher of mine tried to explain this to me a few years back in a music appreciation class where he actually sat on the floor and mimicked someone rowing a boat. Do I remember why? No. Was it funny? Kinda, maybe a better word to describe is absurd. This is something that I got from this album, both from the musical content and the names of the tracks. After all they all have some pretty big names such as ‘Acknowledgement’, ‘Resolution’, ‘Pursuance’ and ‘Psalm’ so there is probably some hidden meaning linked in with the title. I didn’t look it up as I preferred to make my own interpretations but I got something possibly spiritual and an attempt to explain the journey someone, maybe Coltrane, took as a means to truly find themselves. Whether this is true or not, it is my interpretation.

The sheer fact that an instrumental jazz album was able to reach out to me is a very new thing for me. The arrangements are brilliant and at just over half an hour this is the perfect length for this genre of album so that it never actually feels stale and that 5 play-throughs later you are still enjoying the subtle nuances that jazz really is all about. Definitely an album for the iPod.

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