A Love Supreme

I remember when I first heard Coltrane blowing on “A Love Supreme.”  Was in the courtship phase with my ex-husband, went over to his apartment uptown in Spanish Harlem for the first time, we smoked some pot and he played me some music.

Up till then, although I knew almost all the standards from listening to Billie and Ella during my early adolescence, I had been sucked into the disco age with its hypnotizing mechanical beats and desperado misfit desires to dance oneself right out of reality.

This was quite a different scene, and one I took to immediately.  The first record my ex played for me was John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”  I had never heard anything like it.

My ex told me that all the musicians were tripping when they first recorded the tune – well that is an apocryphal tale, but perhaps it’s true.

I am not any kind of authority on jazz — even as I’ve listened to so much of it, heard the jazzmen talk endlessly about it, I don’t remember half the names of the folks or half the anecdotes I heard.

So this is a personal reflection on Trane.

I wish I could find a video of the entire piece, but that was not to be.  It’s probably sacreligious for me to post only a portion, but better something than nothing, imo.

Here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Coltrane played with Miles, I heard Miles used to punch him out when he didn’t play right or was late to a gig, heard that Coltrane woodshedded more than anyone, hours and hours playing his saxophone.

Something changed him from being a junky saxman, a transcendant experience, and his music changed, changed into a flight of sound that transfixes the listening ear.

The jazzman in New York City I met were the next generation, the “tweeners” according to some music writers, they were hooked on Bird and Diz and Miles and Trane and Monk.  They played in the loft scene in the 70’s, they endured the cabaret laws which were really race laws, to keep black folks out of midtown, downtown, you could have only a few players at a gig, so many musicians suffered during that time.

They played like demons, always under the shadow of the greats of the 50s, upstaged by the newcomer youngsters with their hip suits, Berkeley degrees and big record contracts.  They never seemed to say much about that, they played whenever and wherever they could.

Coltrane played A Love Supreme, the music changed, his spirit soared and his sound changed me that evening, in Spanish Harlem, listening to a record, wondering where this music came from.

Just a little Sunday reflection … and appreciation … for those guys.

39 comments

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  1. … with the tubes today.  Please let me know if these videos work for ya.  Thanks.

  2. … another video …

    • Turkana on September 30, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    it’s too damn short!

  3. Miles & Trane with the Gil Evans orchestra.  Wynton Kelly on piano (while Miles takes a smoke break). 

    Saw Carlos Santana at the Warfield a couple years back break into Love Supreme as a tribute to Coltrane.  Great stuff.

  4. my jazz knowledge is highly deficient, I didn’t hear much Coltrane until university when the boyfriend of a friend played while we were indulging in some smokage.
    He introduced me to Nina Simone as well. Until then I was strictly and R&B and soul fan.
    In high school, my friends made fun of me when I played that stuff. In fact, although I went through a punk phase, I was known as that punk chick who liked weird music. No idea where it came from because my mother was a devoted folkie. I do remember being about seven and the television was broken and we had no money to get a new one but my mother had an incredible stereo system for those times.

    • KrisC on September 30, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Great music to frolic around the internet with this afternoon.  Ya got good taste!  Rec’d!

    • Pluto on September 30, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Magnifico and I are doing Bob Dylan, you’ve got Coltrane.

    Who else has the moody blues today?

  5. Yer banned!!!

  6. Loved this recollection.  Thank you.

    just wondering if you ever heard of a (then obscure, now honored) video artist named Aldo Tambellini, and his first-ever jazz-rich video-as-art group “Black Gate Theater?”  Involved Archie Shepp (sp?)?

    I’m imagining you might likely have been there…

  7. i heard myself play on guitar was the melody of Love Supreme, well, after the prerequisite Smoke on the Water riff of course.

    It is hauntingly simple and mantra-like.

  8. is what we played at my ex’s wake, and in the car on the way to his funeral and back. He was a troubled jazzman, and that was his last request.

    Beautiful diary Nightprowlkitty. Thank you.

    • Zwoof on October 1, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Did ya dig that the Google Ads changed to all Jazz links on this page?

  9. The Blues.

  10. oh, but i kid. check the sig.

    npk, this is a lovely exploration of music and meaning, and i regret having missed this thread in real time.

    it may (or, perhaps not) interest you to see the debate that coltrane’s work–and in particular, the work from the later part of his life–continues to engender even among saxophone players. below is a link to a saxophone discussion board at which i largely lurk:

    http://forum.saxonth

    imho, als is incredibly powerful and personal; there’s a heavyness to it that is almost too much to bear. i almost feel a sense of guilt at being intrusive, since what we’re doing is listening in to someone’s conversation with / exhortations to the higher power.

    • pfiore8 on October 1, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    trane is

    a love supreme a love supreme a love supreme

    it was Coltrane that made me hear music different…  it stopped being mere sound; i started to hear it visually, digging the space… the time… and feeling hot and cold, confused and lit up

    but after hearing you sing, i am not surprised by this!

    you should put the link here so homo neurotic can take a listen… i think he would dig it

    • jibbly on October 2, 2007 at 12:44 am

    This conversation and these links have made my day.
    I LOVE John Coltrane but haven’t been making enough time to stop and listen as I did in years past.
    Nothing beats some Trane dropped into the middle of my blog reading.
    Sincere thanks.

  11. Just listen to McCoy Tyner’s big piano chords supporting all that horn work.  Unbelievable stuff.

    Just attened all 3 days and nights at Monterey.  50 years, what a treat!  Even got to see Ornette Coleman play something I could understand.

    • Robyn on October 2, 2007 at 2:40 am

    …in teaching here, and there have been many, are the outrageously talented people with whom I have been privileged to be colleagues.

    One of them retired last spring.  His name is Chris White.  He was Dizzy’s bass player, backed Nina some and has his own group now.

  12. my partner expossed me to coltrane…
    I know little but, as some here have said, have listened much….
    music can be transformative….
    definetly, and it can give voice to changes in beings for which there may little outward evidence…..

    • %20 on January 27, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Nightprowlkitty-

    You are so informed on Trane (and Jazz).   I have a BM in Music History and Theory and you speak just so intelligent about his music.  Those are my videos you posted (of Parts 1 & 2)of Love Supreme-  I have finished the Suite (Parts 3 and 4)on my Youtube account- jpfarrell68.  Thanks for sharing Trane and Check out my Bird Video- I think you will love it.  I have been a Coltrane Fan since I was 11 years old.  I have been to his Grave at Pinelawn on Long Island, I placed a stone upon it.  I one day Hope to travel to Hamlet, NC to visit his boyhood home as well.  Peace- A Love Supreme!  

    jpfarrell68

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