Sunday, November 1, 2015

Historical Box Set of the Month - "John Coltrane: A Love Supreme / The Complete Masters"

Historical Box Set of the Month
John Coltrane: "A Love Supreme / The Complete Masters" (Impulse!) 3-CD set
Release Date: November 20, 2015

Reissue Produced by Michael Cuscuna
Digitally remastered using 20-bit technology by Erick Labson
Original Album Producer: Bob Thiele.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) on December 9, 1964, and The Festival Mondial Du Jazz Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France in July 1965. Includes liner notes by John Coltrane, Ashley Kahn, Ravi Coltrane.
Featuring: John Coltrane (tenor sax, voice), Archie Shepp (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison & Art Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Easily 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 his innovations from his past, spoke of his current deep spirituality, and also gave a glimpse into the next two and a half years.

John Coltrane and his classic quartet (Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner) went into the legendary Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and recorded "A Love Supreme" -- the four-part suite that has influenced musicians and reached generations of fans far beyond the jazz world. Far less known is the fact that Coltrane, his classic quartet and two additional musicians -- the legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp and second bassist, Dr. Art Davis -- returned to the studio the next day to cut the opening part of the suite again. Until now, the complete picture of what happened on those two days, including all takes, overdubs, and even studio chatter, has been unavailable.

That has changed now that Verve will issue "A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters" on November 20, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of this seminal recording. Available in 2CD and 3CD sets, it includes this alternate version, taken from reels from the personal collection of John Coltrane and originally recorded in incredible sonic detail by Rudy Van Gelder, along with revised notes and detailed information on these amazing lost sessions. There's also, on the third disc, the complete live performance of "A Love Supreme" in Juan-les-Pins, France, in 1965.

This release kicks off a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Verve label, which will include myriad catalog releases, digital exclusives and box sets through the end of 2016.
"A Love Supreme" is the essential example of John Coltrane's genius. In what has become the apotheosis of jazz music, this eminently accessible work bridges the gap between music and spirituality, between art and life. With the ultimate incarnation of the jazz quartet, Coltrane brings together all of his turbulent elements into a cohesive paean to spirituality, one which is fully appreciable by the uninitiated.

The original album comprises a 33-minute work divided into four movements. "Acknowledgment" starts the album with a heraldic summoning from Coltrane's tenor saxophone, full and joyous, which approximates the tone of the prayer he provides in the album's liner notes. The solo that follows reveals an artist whose spiritual depth and emotional urgency are matched by an adherence to logic and a resolve to achieve one goal above all--communication. Each simple musical statement is either followed by a motivic development or countered with a conversational response. Coltrane climaxes with a distilled four-note motif echoing the album's title, which he plays with by sequencing it through a wide array of tonalities. Finally, the band comes in, reiterating this idea, chanting the mantra "A Love Supreme."

"Acknowledgment" is followed by the torrential release of "Resolution," whose melody Coltrane fervently states to the animated accompaniment of his superb rhythm section. Laying the groundwork is drummer Elvin Jones, who approximates the effect of multiple percussionists feeding off of each other, creating an enormous texture of rhythm. McCoy Tyner's colorful piano clusters act as gusts of wind supporting Trane's soaring expressions. Bassist Jimmy Garrision takes the low road, keeping everyone on track. With support like this, Coltrane is free to explore the uncharted depths of his soul. On "Resolution," we can hear the very fabric of Trane's voice being stretched to the limit, as if even the horn which he has mastered is not a worthy enough vehicle for this man's spirit.

The rousing "Pursuance" features some vigorously swinging playing from Tyner, furiously followed by Coltrane's climaxes in an inspired hurling of ideas. Bassist Garrison brings us to the conclusion, an extended "Psalm" that acts as a resolved denouement in which Trane slowly muses over a lush bed of tranquil sounds -- almost as if he were reflecting upon the wisdom achieved at this apex of his spiritual journey. Although the music is slowed, the level of intensity is maintained, as if we've reached a plateau upon which we may ponder what is pronounced in the liner notes, "Elation--Elegance--Exaltation--All from God." Via John Coltrane.

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