John Coltrane: A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters
John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, Art Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums
Impulse! 80023727-02 (3 CDs). 1965/2015. Bob Thiele, orig. prod.; Rudy Van Gelder, orig. eng.; Harry Weinger, Ashley Kahn, reissue prods.; Kevin Reeves, reissue mastering. ADD? TT: 2:43:31
While every jazz fan has his or her favorite period of John Coltrane's careerthe promising Prestige years, the "hits" on Atlantic, the single knockout punch of Blue Trane, his lone album for Blue Notenearly everyone agrees that the intensely realized vision and sonic charms of A Love Supreme make that album his masterpiece. The recordings Coltrane made for his final label, Impulse!, at first swung between more free jazz outings like Impressions (1963) and more conventional recordings, such as duet albums with Duke Ellington and Johnny Hartman (both in 1963). A Love Supreme (1965) was his most coherent artistic statement, one grounded in his love for God, and embodying an affirmation of the power of love over dissension and division. The album also marked the beginning of Coltrane's final two years, in which he would relentlessly plumb new depths of meaning in his music, and hone an ever more assaultive, angular sound that seethed with emotion and an endless stream of ideas. The strident, dissonant, refractory music that followed A Love Supreme, and now known as his New Thing, remains controversial.