Although he had been flirting with atonalism, modalism and other "out" styles previously, this was Coltrane's first full outing leading his group into the free/avant-garde direction. Not as inscrutable as later recordings ("Interstellar Space" being his most challenging), this album has the near perfect blend of gorgeous melody, atonal lyricism (if such things can really coexist), and free exploration. His bandmates are game to whatever he throws at him. McCoy Tyner's blocky Monk-like rhythmic jabs counterpointing Elvin Jones' furious yet swinging drums. And Reggie Workman's bass solo (!) is mesmerizing. All in all, a quintessential jazz masterpiece and required listening for anyone with a desire to explore broad musical colors.
One of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing, that at once compiled all of the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years. Recorded over two days in December 1964, Trane's classic quartet--Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison-- stepped into the studio and created one of the most the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship. From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical and emotionally varied soloing, while the rest of the group is completely atttuned to his spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression. "Acknowledgement" is the awakening to a spiritual life from the darkness of the world; it trails off with the saxophonist chanting the suite's title. "Resolution" is an amazingly beautiful, somewhat turbulent segment. It portrays the dedication required for discovery on the path toward spiritual understanding. "Pursuance" searches deeply for that experience, while "Psalm" portrays that discovery and the realization of enlightenment with humility. Although sometimes aggressive and dissonant, this isn't Coltrane at his most furious or adventurous. His recordings following this period--studio and live-- become progressively untethered and extremely spirited. A Love Supreme not only attempts but realizes the ambitious undertaking of Coltrane's concept; his emotional, searching, sometimes prayerful journey is made abundantly clear. Clocking in at 33 minutes; A Love Supreme conveys much without overstatement. It is almost impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it. ~ Sam Samuelson and Thom Jurek, Rovi