This month marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic album ‘A Love Supreme’ by John Coltrane. The album is a four-part ‘suite’ (with a running-time of only 33 minutes) that is frequently listed as one of the most important or influential albums in the history of jazz. The album was written as an expression of Coltrane’s gratitude to God and is widely understood to be a reflection of his spiritual quest, arising from his personal struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. It comprises 4 thematically-linked tracks: (1) Acknowledgement, (2) Resolution, (3) Pursuance, and (4) Psalm.
My admiration for this record has nothing to do with Coltrane’s faith or spirituality. As an atheist, I have no religious connection to the music and I do not believe that such a connection is necessary in order to engage with the work. I love the music and feel that it was (and continues to be) an eye-opener for me with regard to the approach to improvisation, the development of melodic ideas and the ensemble interaction. So, here’s a short list of the musical reasons for my love of this incredible album. There is very little in the way of analysis of the music and I do not intend to draw any conclusions – this post is simply me, as an admirer of the album, providing some insight into why I love it. Please feel free to comment below and add your own reasons to the list – I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this music.