An album-length suite (four themes, related by a four-note motif, separated by different improvisational approaches) by John Coltrane, the culmination of his quartet's exploration and extension of modal jazz. Trane's liner notes made explicit the spiritual underpinnings of his post-Miles music, and gave a hint of the libretto for the
next phase in his career. Also the original title of Spike Lee's film Mo Better Blues.

In San Francisco (of course), people founded St. John's African Orthodox Church based on his work. St. John refers not to Jesus' disciple but to Trane himself. The song, and Coltrane, are the basis for their worship, the foundation of their faith.

I'm going to San Fran in October, and I'll be at the church on Sunday. Even if Coltrane's not God, he can't be that far off.

Oh, the cool pelunk of acoustic bass as it crawls up from spines and senses, to touch and twist around the sweet tenor saxophones of a blowing blossom tree at the peak of its fertile powers. The trane, I can see it puffing down from around the corner, its engine fed by the steam and energy of a love supreme. And the conductor says, to anyone who is willing to listen: “This trane runs on love, babe, and that means it’s going to run all night long.”

In Acknowledgement, the first portion of this suite, the trane travels the desert at night, when the flowers have all opened, unafraid of the sun’s rays, the steam engine chugs past the hills and ancient glaciers, “A Love Supreme” as its chugga-wooga.

Part 2, Resolution starts with the fretless bass moon, and leads in to the rocket that wants to fly, soaring triplets and couplets, and the moon crawls around the earth like a walking bass, a few moments of sunshine taking a nap on its dark side. The piano, a third voice speaks up, offers a soliloquy offering a tertiary position that neither of the bebop contenders had offered up previous. “We’ve got half an hour, folks, until the bar’s got to close, so we’re going to give this jazz thing our best, and maybe we’ll reach up to those heights that we strive for, at least for a moment, a freedom dream of many colored coats and hats—days lived by no one alone, for His light, yes sir, His light will shine all my days.”

Man, and Coltrane—he was so jazzed by these statements, he had to get up on him and start blowing shit up again.

And the drums just keep on crashing, and the trane is starting to run off the track. But that’s ok, greased by God’s lightning, this trane’s set to soar.

The Pursuance and the Psalm close the final eighteen minutes of the album. Starting with a creative one minute-thirty second drum solo, the familiar refrain of Acknowledgement starts up and the piano begins to run in directions that any child will know as the special road to Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.

The thematic crux of this all, in procession towards a spirituality as free in its nature as jazz is free, locked together with Elvin Jones (drums), McCoy Tyner (Piano), and Jimmy Garrison (Bass). And it is through freedom that enlightenment comes. It can be 1964 again, hard-bop and the Beatles. Following in these footsteps would require shoes that breathe, inhaling the lingering soul of John Coltrane with every step.

What eludes some people about A Love Supreme is the depth of meaning it had for John Coltrane. The easiest way to convey this to you is to use John's words. What follows is straight from the liner notes:


ALL PRAISE BE TO GOD TO WHOM ALL PRAISE IS DUE.

Let us pursue Him in the righteous path. Yes it is true; "seek and ye shall find." Only through Him can we know the most wondrous bequeathal.

During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratituude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.

As time and events moved on, a period of irresolution did prevail. I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully, now and again through the unerring and merciful hand of God, I do perceive and have been duly re-informed of His OMNIPOTENCE, and of our need for, and dependence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT...IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY -- A LOVE SUPREME --.

This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say "THANK YOU GOD" through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strenghten all men in every good endeavor. The music herin is presented in four parts. The first is entitled "Acknowledgement", the second, "Resolution", the third, "Pursuance", and the fourth and last part is a musical narration of the theme, "A LOVE SUPREME" which is written in the context; it is entitled "Psalm".

In closing, I would like to thank the musicians who have contributed their much appreciated talents to the making of this album and all previous engagements.

To Elvin, James and McCoy, I would like to thank you for that which you give each time you perform on your instruments. Also, to Archie Shepp (tenor saxist) and to Art Davis (bassist) who both recorded on a track that regrettably will not be released at this time; my deepest appreciation for your work in music past and present. In the near future, I hope that we will be able to further the work that was started here.

Thanks to producer Bob Thiele; to recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder; and the staff of ABC-Paramount records. Our appreciation and thanks to all people of good will and good works the world over, for in the bank of life is not good that investment which surely pays the highest and most cherished dividends.

May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain -- it is all with God -- in all ways and forever.

ALL PRAISE TO GOD.

With love to all, I thank you,
John Coltrane


A Love Supreme
I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord.
It all has to do with it.
Thank you God.
Peace.
There is none other.
God is.  It is so beautiful.
Thank you God.  God is all.
Help us to resolve our fears and weaknesses.
Thank you God.
In You all things are possible.
We know.  God made us so.
Keep your eye on God.
God is.  He always was.  He always will be.
No matter what...it is God.
He is gracious and merciful.
It is most important that I know Thee.
Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts,
  fears and emotions -- time all related...
  all made from one...all made in one.
Blessed be His name.
Thought waves -- heat waves-all vibrations --
  all paths lead to God.  Thank you God.
His way...it is so lovely...it is gracious.
It is merciful -- thank you God.
One though can produce millions of vibrations
  and they all go back to God...everything does.
Thank you God.
Have no fear...believe...thank you God.
The universe has many wonders.  God is all.
His way...it is so wonderful.
Thoughts--deeds--vibrations, etc.
They all go back to God and He cleanses all.
He is gracious and merciful...thank you God.
Glory to God...God is so alive.
God is.
God loves.
May I be acceptable in Thy sight.
We are all one in His grace.
The fact that we do exist is acknowledgement
  of Thee O Lord.
Thank you God.
God will wash away all our tears...
  He always has...
He always will.
Seek Him everyday.  In all ways seek God everyday.
Let us sing all songs to God.
To whoma all praise is due...praise God.
No road is an easy one, but they all
  go back to God.
With all we share God.
It is all with God.
It is all with Thee.
Obey the Lord.
Blessed is He.
We are from one thing...the will of God...
  thank you God.
I have seen Godd--I have seen ungodly--
  none can be greater--none can compare to God.
Thank you God.
He will remake us...He always has and He
  always will.
It is true--blessed be His name--thank you God.
God breathes through us so completely...
  so gently we hardly feel it...yet,
  it is our everything.
Thank you God.
ELATION--ELEGANCE--EXALTATION--
All from God.
Thank you God.  Amen.

Whatever happened after this time, and whatever life John lived, this work, this masterpiece of innovation and emotion stands throughout history as one of the most honest and true musical endeavors ever recorded. John Coltrane was more than just a Saxophonist, more than just a musician. John Coltrane was an artist of the highest and greatest calibre, worthy of his reputation and worthy of praise.

I may not be a Christian and I may not believe in God, but I believe in John Coltrane and I believe in the strength of his conviction; and when I listen to this piece, I believe that any man, woman or child can achieve greatness in whatever they do; if only for an instant. I thank John Coltrane for what he gave me.

Please read this if you wish to know my dilema regarding this piece and Branford Marsalis.

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