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John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)

January 20, 2015

[Album 368/1001]220px-John_Coltrane_-_A_Love_Supreme

High school exams start this week & this album takes me back to grade 9.

Not that I was aware of A Love Supreme‘s existence in grade 9; more so, this listening experience reminds me of reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night back in the day.

My ninth grade English class could likely be divided into 3 unequally-sized student groups:

a) The students who appreciated Twelfth Night, regardless of what happened in the classroom
b) The students who had little to no use for the Bard
c) The students who thought the play was OK when reading independently but thanks to an enthusiastic teacher, appreciated it more after studying as a class

As Maxwell Smart would say, would you believe…I was in group c)?

It appears I could use an enthusiastic teacher to enhance my Coltrane appreciation here as well.

As at the moment, it’s fine, I don’t have anything overly negative to report.

Multiple listens haven’t really changed the experience for me.  The movement titles feel apt: Resolution (my favourite of the lot) is likely the most cohesive & Pursuance sounds like the musicians are chasing something but they’re running in different directions.  Perhaps pursuance also describes the frustration of the grade 9 English teacher, especially the week before a holiday, trying to catch the rapidly wandering/waning attention spans of his/her class.

To be fair, instrumental jazz isn’t among the genres in heavy rotation at my home.

Though I’d like to learn to appreciate it more, especially when A Love Supreme is categorized as both “post-bop” and “avant-garde jazz.”

If I could (honestly) answer the “so what kind of music do you like?” question with “oh you know, a bit of post-bop & some avant-garde jazz,” I’d be alright with that!

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From → 1960s

20 Comments
  1. Good on you for having a go Geoff.
    My advice would be work towards later Coltrane generally and A Love Supreme in particular. As jazz follows a clear developmental line from birth to the late 60s, working chronologically is usually worthwhile.
    Many have found (and who am I to disagree) that following the career of Miles Dewey Davis is a jazz education all on its own!
    (I wrote on “In a Silent Way” a while back; that’s not a bad post-bop jazz album to say G’day to).

  2. This is (probably) my favourite album of all time and I have no idea how to begin explaining why. It resonates me on a deep level and I find new treasures with every listen.

    • That’s exactly the way I feel about my favourites – I’m putting off my all-timers until the end of the 1001 as I’m not sure how to summarize their impact on me.

      Your comments about this one help though – that’s the teacher enthusiasm I was hoping for, thanks Jordan!

  3. cassetteman permalink

    I blooged about this album last year. I kind of liked it when i gave it my full attention but its not something I’ve listend to regularly since.

    • Good to hear I’m not alone in the ‘liked’ the album response – I can’t find your review, care to share the link here?

  4. Your take is a perfectly valid one. I don’t think these records were built to appeal to people straight away or, for some, at all. I’ve been listening to jazz (in a lot of its forms) for most of my life. I’ve heard this Coltrane (and others) countless times. I love it like an old friend. But every time I spin it, it challenges me. It makes me work for it. Which, I believe, was the point. So the teacher enthusiasm I’d have for you, as a big fan of this one (and others of his) is to stay with it. It may take ten listens, it may take a hundred, it may just be the circumstances of a particular day that helps, but at some point this one will open itself to you in ways it hasn’t yet and, after it does, and even though each subsequent listen will still challenge you, you’ll have that kernel to hold dear while you listen, and that’ll colour each new spin too!

    Good on you for liking it well enough in such a short time. I’ve known people to shut it off, walk away, even openly question why I would listen to such things. It’s worth the work, I think. There’s gold in them thar hills!

    • Now that’s an enthusiastic educator, excellent!
      I think it was our friend 1537 that made a good point recently about some music not being a question of ‘what’ but ‘when’ that makes the experience what it is.

      The door is definitely not shut here, pleased to hear there (or thar!) may be an aha/lightbulb moment sometime down the road.

  5. cassetteman permalink

    Here’s the link http://wp.me/p4gGhZ-2

  6. Good attempt!

    Jazz was a part of my home life but I came to this LP in later life. Even without the titles I think this just feels like highly spiritual music to me – Coltrane literally blows his heart out.

    • Well said – I definitely heard some of that on the recording. There are horn players that have a delicate touch and it’s the notes they don’t play. It feels like his approach was different, he didn’t hold anything back

  7. Yup – this is one I need to come back to also – definitely one that’s likely to grow on me. I found that with all of the jazz stuff I’ve listened to other than Kind of Blue, to be honest.

    • For sure – Kind of Blue was more instantly appealing. Though Kind of Blue’s case I think I benefited from the timing as I first explored it on a quiet late night drive, it certainly worked in that setting

  8. Some albums I enjoy only in a certain context. This one I love played very loud while I’m working on a project. Never listen to it any other way. His song “Naima,” though, is beautiful in any context.

    • That’s a good suggestion – most of my listens were relatively quiet, I’ll crank it up to 11 on my next one!

  9. Representing group a) for Twelfth Night! I thought it was a really good intro to Shakey. Easy enough to follow, and I really liked the setting.

    All of these comments are making this album out to be something pretty special. Let’s see what group I fall into…listening now!

    • When I hear Shakey I think Neil Young, I like it for the Bard too!
      Nice to have a) represented – good to hear you thought william, it was really something 😀

      • As far as comment replies go, that’s got to be one of the best.

        I listened to the first two parts of A Love Supreme. I’m diggin’ it. It’s sort of all over the place in a really cool way. It reminds me of a lot of other non-jazz stuff in the structure of the songs… can’t put my finger on it though.

      • Haha – it is your observation of ‘you just haven’t earned it yet baby’ when summarizing the concept of unearned revenue that remains the benchmark!

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