A Love Supreme

(John Coltrane)

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared

Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)


Marc De Bruyn (emdebe@village.uunet.be), September 5, 2003

"A Love Supreme" was written by John William Coltrane (1926-1967), "Trane" for the friends, virtuoso player of the tenor, soprano, and alto saxophones, and flute (as a child he played the clarinet), best known for his experimentation that had him labeled eccentric, unorthodox, and even unmusical (in 1961 he began a series of recordings at the Village Vanguard that were often called "anti-jazz"—to try to counter the criticism he recorded in a quartet with Duke Ellington).

In late 1964 he recorded "A Love Supreme", which is known as his greatest album. Invoking the ecstatic spirit of non-Western religious tradition, Coltrane opened the eyes of the jazz world to a new spiritual potential. Jazz, a music driven by rhythm and extended improvisation, was a medium ideally suited to the exploration of mystical ideas only partially communicable through the spoken word.

Coltrane began his jazz career with King Kolax (1912-1991), but left in 1947 to play with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (1917-1988); his first big gig was with the Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) Big Band in 1949. He played with several different groups after leaving Gilllespie including Gay Crosse in 1952, Earl Bostic (1913-1965) in 1952, Johnny Hodges (1907-1970) in 1953-54, and Jimmy Smith in 1955. In 1955 Miles Davis (1926-1991) started a quintet and Coltrane came on to play tenor, until 1957 when he was fired for his heroin addiction. He went to New York to play at New York's Five Spot with Thelonious Monk (1917-1982). He then rejoined Miles Davis in 1958, until 1960 when he began his own quartet (McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Reggie Workman on bass—a year later the band was joined by Eric Dolphy). By 1967 he was truly overworked: he would practice ten to twelve hours a day, besides a number of performances that included a tour of Japan during the summer. It was just after returning from Japan that he died prematurely on July 17, 1967: the cause of death was liver cancer, but it was probably a combination of overworking and alcohol.



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