A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Day 41, “A Love Supreme, Part 2: Resolution” by John Coltrane from the album “A Love Supreme”.
It’s not really possible to judge a person solely by their record collection, especially by the existence or non-existence of a single record in their collection. I’m pretty sure there are some pretty awful people out there with some stellar collections of amazing music. However, there are certain records that are indicators of a good collection and a kindred soul whom you might get along with. “A Love Supreme” is one of those records.
John Coltrane is without a doubt my favorite jazz artist. It seems a bit cliche, like saying your favorite writer is Kerouac or Hemingway or something, but sometimes the cliche is just the truth. There is something in Coltrane’s playing that captures a duality of spirit. Much of Coltrane’s songs you can sense that feeling of always looking for the new thing – the archetype of the jazzman on stage blowing, reaching for new combinations of notes, an on the spot exorcism of forces from within that push the music to farther reaching heights than the time before. On the flipside it is very clear that Coltrane spent a lot time meditating on his art. These songs weren’t just spit out on stage but were crafted in the mind, mulled over and released into the wild when the time was right.
And so it is with “A Love Supreme”, a four-part song/album that not only highlights moments of wild abandon but also clearly shows the thoughtful construction by Coltrane and the Quartet members Jones, Garrison and Tyner. Each of the four parts of “A Love Supreme” have their own mood but tie together to form a cohesive whole. The album begins with “Part 1: Acknowledgement” which is a slower, building piece that culminates in Coltrane’s chanting of “a love supreme, a love supreme….” The second part “Resolution” and the third “Pursuance” pick up the pace and heavily feature McCoy Tyner’s forceful and lively piano playing. Things slow back down for the fourth and final section “Psalm” which once again brings the focus back to Coltrane’s saxophone.
Clearly the album is meant to be a very spiritual expression, a thank-you to God, as based on the liner notes and the poem written by Coltrane and included in the liner. This poem is the basis for Coltrane’s saxophone part in “Part 4: Psalm”, in which he plays the words rather than verbalizing them. The poem begins with “I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord” and ends with “Thank you God. ELATION-ELEGANCE-EXALTATION – All from Gad. Thank you God. Amen”.
With some regularity I would get up “early” on Sunday mornings while Emma was still sleeping and play “A Love Supreme”. I’m not a religious man, but the playing of “A Love Supreme” was a bit of a religious experience, a chance to have some quiet reflection about the week left behind and the week waiting ahead of me, a time to immerse myself in the music. Emma was also never really a big jazz fan so it worked out that I could play this while she wasn’t around, but she would often come down somewhere in the middle of the record and over the years it slowly won her over.
Love this album.
ALL PRAISE TO COLTRANE TO WHOM ALL PRAISE IS DUE.