Thursday, October 14, 2021

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle (Impulse Records, 2021)

1965 may have been the most incandescent year for John Coltrane, beginning with the release of what would become a cultural touchstone, the album A Love Supreme, and by the end, the dissolution of his classic quartet, as he decided to devote himself fully to free and spiritual jazz. October of that year was particularly fertile, yielding the OM album, and the posthumously released Live in Seattle. On October 2 Seattle saxophonist and educator Joe Brazil recorded this expanded group, John Coltrane Pharoah Sanders and Carlos Ward on saxophones, McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Jimmy Garrison and Donald (Rafael) Garrett on basses at the Penthouse club. The group is called to order around the anchoring basses on “A Love Supreme, Pt. 1 – Acknowledgement“ with the majestic saxophone melody entering as the band begins to fill out the available space, swelling up as the volume and tempo increase. The basses and extensive rhythm are the connective tissue that hold things together and allow the group to explore beyond the original suite on the improvisational interludes played between the movements. Drums and percussion met with plucked and bowed bass in an intricate mesh, developing a seething conglomeration of musical ideas on “A Love Supreme, Pt. II – Resolution.” Coltrane soars back in with some of his most powerful playing of the set, meeting Jones at his most potent as Tyner provides grounding chords underneath. Room is made for a different sounding horn, probably Ward, playing with Dolphy like accents and contributing well to the crushing improvisation. After an interlude segment of beautiful solo drumming, there are very interesting solo segments on “A Love Supreme, Pt. III – Pursuance” where Pharoah Sanders gets a chance to shine, overblowing white hot while Jones roils underneath and Tyner struggles to be heard. But when Pharoah steps aside Tyner lays down a gauntlet of his own, maintaining the very fast pace, but employing the length of his instrument to produce a lush sound along side Jones motoring percussion. After a final interlude, the whole group comes together for the prayerful “A Love Supreme, Pt. IV – Psalm” which brings the entire performance to a beautiful and graceful conclusion. This is only the second known recorded live version of the A Love Supreme suite, but beyond that rarity is the quality of the music, with the musicians using this incredible material as springboards for daring improvisations both solo and collective. Considering that the source is a fifty five year old audience recording, the sound is quite good within reason, and should not dissuade anyone from checking out this historic session. A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle -

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