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.