John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965), 7/10

The universal love for Coltrane’s spiritual poem is founded in its digestible expression, thematic voice, and technically masterful performance, all accented by superb production. This is practically a given considering the talent present in this quartet but Elvin Jones and Coltrane in particular take things to a new plane. The album opens with a thematic crescendo in “Acknowledgment” before launching into the melodic peak of the movements with “Resolution”. The second half of the record covers a lot of ground with some superbly successful passages and some unnecessarily wayward tangents. A Love Supreme is a fantastic spiritual jazz record, in fact one of the very best, but Coltrane made several better albums from both a musical and technical perspective. The simple phenomenon of its blending of the complex, spiritually enticing, and the physical sensations of transcendent jazz make its impact unending. The religious overtones are unmistakable and endearing yet read like a droning heartbeat even through the musician’s instruments. The real appeal of Trane’s statements, however, is in the maturity behind their performance. These are musicians and a bandleader who know exactly what they want to say and convey that message with unbridled confidence. There is no doubt to be heard from start to finish, even a growth throughout the recording that furthers the poetic compositions. The one-and-a-half-minute drum solo that opens “Pursuance” unfortunately adds very little to the proceedings as do most extensive percussion solos without any accompaniment or thematic considerations, even if this communicates an individual perspective it brings all methodically assembled spiritual momentum to a halt. This is furthered by continued soloing that again rarely furthers the music, and these are no exception, making for a disappointing set of passages in an otherwise supremely moving listening experience. The closing movement “Psalm” redeems a lot of this lost energy just before the album’s final phrases. If nothing else, A Love Supreme offers a uniquely genuine and sincere assemblage of musical poetry that embodies the manifestation of devotion through musical expression.