This month marks the 50th anniversary of the release of John Coltrane’s classic, A Love Supreme (last year was considered its official anniversary, since it was recorded in December 1964, but I’m choosing to commemorate the first chance the public got to hear it). If you’ve been keeping up with this series then anything I could say about A Love Supreme is going to be superfluous; in my opinion it’s about as close to musical perfection as a jazz album — as any album, really — gets. It melds all the strands of Coltrane’s career — hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz, and his own deep spirituality — seamlessly into one amazing piece of music. This NPR story on the making of the album is good for a short read, but if you want my advice, don’t read anything else and just skip to the listening.
It makes no sense to talk about separate tracks as the whole album is one long suite, Coltrane’s ode to the spirit, however you choose to experience it, and should really be listened to that way. Alongside Coltrane are pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.