Monday, July 23, 2007

Reflections of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme
Spring ‘06

(from the liner notes of the 2003 reissue of A Love Supreme):

“Boosted by a crescendo of piano chords, Coltrane steps in at full throttle. In a relatively small frame–two and a half minutes–he achieves the same raspy-throated transcendence and free-flowing lyricism his legendary twenty-minute live solos reached nightly”.

To me, that is one element of why this is the apex of his composition and playing (his vision): while I respect, and remain in awe of, the longer workouts, which became increasingly intense, frenzied and loud after 1965, I can only absorb them in small doses. it’s not merely that he hit the mark so clean and clear on ALS, but he accomplished what so few artists are able to do, which borders on miraculous: he filtered all that intensity into a perfect chalice–after this recording the cup was forever too full, and but for the most faithful or forgiving listeners, the famous sheets of sound became a tsunami: uncontainable, too much for the human ear; his canvas, after all, was the entire world that he saw, but I don’t know if ever before, or after, his vision was so focused and peaceful. Or put another way, the earlier work was drizzle, then steady and certain rain; after 1965 it was hurricanes and tornadoes; on ALS it’s a thunderstorm: there is lightning, thunder, lots of loud, torrential rain; but it is a summer day, the ground is warm, and you know you are safe. So you sit back and let this force of nature wash over you and refresh and renew you. Eventually, the rain has stopped and you open your eyes and wonder how you’ll ever live without it.

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