A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album | Ashley Kahn
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Few albums in the canon of popular music have had the influence, resonance, and endurance of John Coltrane's 1965 classic A Love Supreme-a record that proved jazz was a fitting medium for spiritual exploration and for the expression of the sublime.
Bringing the same fresh and engaging approach that characterized his critically acclaimed Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, Ashley Kahn tells the story of the genesis, creation, and aftermath of this classic recording. Featuring interviews with more than one hundred musicians, producers, friends, and family members; unpublished interviews with Coltrane and bassist Jimmy Garrison; and scores of never-before-seen photographs, A Love Supreme balances biography, cultural context, and musical analysis in a passionate and revealing portrait.
“Along with Miles Davis's seminal album, Kind of Blue, saxophonist John Coltrane's A Love Supreme is undoubtedly one of the world's most influential jazz recordings. Recorded with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones over the course of one evening in 1964, the record "caught Coltrane at a pivotal point in his creative trajectory: the crystallizing of his four years with this renowned quartet, moments before his turn toward the final, most debated phase of his career." In A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album, Ashley Kahn (Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece) covers how the album was made, where it was made, why it is so important and how it reached such a broad audience (it is one of the top-selling jazz albums of all time). Music fans and historians will devour the book, which is rife with anecdotes and commentary from Bono, Phil Lesh, Alice Coltrane (Coltrane's widow); black-and-white photographs; and previously unpublished interviews with Coltrane himself. It features a foreword written by Elvin Jones.” - Publishers Weekly
“Jazz writing appears to be moving toward high art, with Kahn leading the way. In his second study of a groundbreaking jazz recording (the first was on Miles Davis's Kind of Blue), he addresses the less obvious aspects of Coltrane's album, including the saxophonist's ideas and the actual recording session, interweaving them all with snippets of interviews with the Coltrane family and musical cohorts. Five brief sections, or interludes, discuss topics like the label that released the record (Impulse), the producer, and related poetry, while the epilog concisely summarizes the text. A Love Supreme, Kahn reveals, was a spiritual manifesto that touched countless listeners. Many issues come to the fore: the cultural movements of the mid-1960s, including expression of spiritual values, and technical musical challenges. Coltrane fulfilled his desire to record in one finite session without regard to commercial pressures. He was able to pull together much of his previous work and concentrate it in one piece. The only book-length treatment of the record, this is absolutely essential jazz history for all libraries. [This book's publication coincides with the Verve Music Group's release of an expanded, two-disc version of A Love Supreme.-Ed.]-William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhea.” – Library Journal
“Coltrane was already a jazz colossus, acclaimed by peers, critics, and audiences alike, when he, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones recorded the spiritually informed four-part suite A Love Supreme, very efficiently and in sequence, on December 9, 1964, in recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio. After its release and much greater popularity than avant-garde jazz customarily enjoys, Coltrane became a spiritual as well as musical hero to every subsequent generation of jazz players and listeners. Here Kahn does for A Love Supreme what he did in Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece (2000) for Coltrane's former employer's biggest hit, and because A Love Supreme was pivotal in Coltrane's career--he became the fountainhead of free jazz almost immediately after recording it--Kahn winds up writing the great saxophonist's biography again, more lucidly, if in less detail, than anyone has before. He injects fine sidereal pieces on Impulse! Records, Van Gelder, the prayer at the heart of the suite, the single live performance of it, and the recording's many editions over the years, which will soon include an augmented two-CD version, the only companion to this lucid, brilliant, resplendently illustrated book that could better it in aesthetic satisfaction. Ray Olson” - Booklist
"The emotions I experienced while reading Ashley Kahn's A Love Supreme gave me a feeling of beauty, elegance, excellence, grace and dignity. I congratulate him for a supreme effort well done." - Carlos Santana
About the Author:
Ashley Kahn is the author of critically acclaimed Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece; the primary editor of Rolling Stone: The Seventies, and a primary contributor to The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide. His freelance features on music and culture have appeared in the New York Times, TV Guide, MOJO, Newsday, The New York Observer, New Statesman (UK), Jazz (France), GQ (Japan), Down Beat, Jazz Times and many other publications. He was music editor at VH1, and has also been a concert producer and tour manager, working with a wide variety of artists from Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Britney Spears, to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Cassandra Wilson and Debby Harry and the Jazz Passengers.