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Music Review: ' A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters,' John Coltrane
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Music Review: ' A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters,' John Coltrane

Music Reviews

Music Review: ' A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters,' John Coltrane

Music Review: ' A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters,' John Coltrane
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An expanded version of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane's A Love Supreme has been released. Music reviewer Tom Moon says the set, which includes alternate studio takes and a live recording, gives insight into the musician's creative drive.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Jazz fans received an early present this year - an expanded version of a classic work...

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "PSALM")

SIEGEL: John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme."

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "PSALM")

SIEGEL: This collection contains the only known complete live performance of the work. It also has previously unreleased alternate studio takes. Reviewer Tom Moon says the set is an illustration of Coltrane's legendary restless creativity.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "PSALM")

TOM MOON, BYLINE: John Coltrane recorded "A Love Supreme" in a single day December 9, 1965. The four-part suite which was inspired by what he described as a spiritual awakening sounds to us now as fully formed, complete. But Coltrane evidently had more in mind. The very next day, he returned to the studio to try out different approaches.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "ACKNOWLEDGEMENT")

MOON: The booklet accompanying the new set reproduces Coltrane's skeletal score for the work. He initially envisioned a nine-piece band with Latin percussion, but for this session, he added just bassist Art Davis and saxophonist Archie Shepp to his longtime trio. They worked extensively on the first part. After a few takes, Shepp had developed a fiery counterpoint to Coltrane's theme.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "ACKNOWLEDGEMENT")

MOON: These studio outtakes show that Coltrane regarded the themes of "A Love Supreme" as somewhat malleable, and the live performance at a festival six months after the studio recording backs that up. The quartet sounds exceptionally unified in its pursuit of new heights.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "RESOLUTION")

MOON: This version doesn’t give us boatloads of unreleased material. That live recording was first issued in 2002. But it does offer a fuller picture of Coltrane's creative thinking, showing not just his willingness to experiment but the drive to keep on experimenting. There he was, a day after recording one of the towering landmarks of jazz, back at it, exploring "A Love Supreme" from a slightly different angle.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE SONG, "ACKNOWLEDGEMENT")

SIEGEL: Tom Moon reviewed "A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters" by John Coltrane.

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