The John Coltrane Quartet performs "A Love Supreme"
November 29, 2011 4:11 PM   Subscribe

On July 26, 1965, at the Antibes Jazz Festival, the John Coltrane Quartet made its only public performance of A Love Supreme. (previously)

Coltrane's original manuscript is exhibited by the Smithsonian as a "Treasure of American History".
posted by Trurl (19 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
And less than 3 weeks earlier, he recorded Ascension.

So rapid was Coltrane's development in 1965 that this performance is already him looking in a rear-view mirror.
posted by Trurl at 4:23 PM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've always loved the drum solo on 'Pursuance' in this version. The whole thing, with introduction, is included on the 2-CD set of A Love Supreme.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:20 PM on November 29, 2011

One of my favorite all-time albums. Thanks for posting this!
posted by smirkette at 6:25 PM on November 29, 2011

Oh beautiful.

For a while I listened to "A Love Supreme" every day as I was going to sleep. I set it on repeat and played it softly, not to drown out the street noise so much as to accompany it. It was an excellent soundtrack for dreams.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow! One of my favourite albums. The four of them sound so connected that they really sound like one person playing all four instruments all once. One of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard. Thanks for the link.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2011

When my daughter and I indulge in certain frozen desert treats, we like to sing...

I loooove ice cream! I loooove ice cream!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


"A Love Supreme." And afterwards Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way."

Life complete.
posted by bardic at 8:16 PM on November 29, 2011

It was an excellent soundtrack for dreams.

True and it is therapeutic, as well. There have been times when I was very shaken or felt shattered and found that Coltrane's music could put me back together. I probably should have sought out that church, cynic that I am, for I do believe in Coltrane.
posted by Anitanola at 8:22 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wow. What a piano solo. It never occurred to me — but it makes sense — that this was (almost) never played in public. My first real girlfriend (who married someone else 41 years ago) gave A Love Supreme to me right when it came out, and it’s been the only one of my 3300+ albums I just listen to, and never use as background music.

This interesting bit written on the album’s 40th anniversary calls it a "place where personal history and technical skill and spiritual mastery merge — and magic happens." The writer also notes that Coltrane got paid $244 (and royalties) to record it, while the other three each earned $142.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:35 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Great synchronicity - I pulled it out last weekend to listen to on my trip to the folks for T-Day and have been listening to it in all my rides since :)
posted by symbioid at 10:03 PM on November 29, 2011

Forgive my ignorance, and tell me what I'm missing.

I listen, and I hear a great hook for about a minute. Then Coltrane leaves, and the piano player goes solo. I don't hear variety in tempo or dynamic volume. I hear loud, fast and precise, but it sounds like diddling to me.

People I respect love Coltrane. Same with Charlie Parker. Are there mode changes going on during the solo? I hear people talking in the background; is the music meant to be talked through, while occasionally grabbing attention?

I mean no disrespect. But I am unable to differentiate the third minute of the solo from the fourth minute. If those of you who love this could put words to what you love about it, that would be an appreciation.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:24 AM on November 30, 2011

I hear people talking in the background

People talk through great music all the time. That's not in any way unusual. It doesn't mean the music is not great. It just means that people are often not especially interested in or receptive to it. But it's not a reflection on the music. It's a reflection on those people who were in the room but were not ready, for whatever reason, to give the music the attention it deserved.

As for your other questions, I don't have the time or energy to answer them right now. Perhaps tomorrow. (It's bedtime here in Tokyo.)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:39 AM on November 30, 2011

Here's the first part of the performance.
posted by mahershalal at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

By the way dragonsi55, I think it's Tyner doing the talking, not the audience.
posted by mahershalal at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2011

I was going to say... no disrespect to Coltraine, but McCoy Tyner's playing here is just amazing, but then I found the whole thing and it's like Tyner was just egging him on to come back on stage. McCoy is on fire though and it's amazing to listen to Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison keep up (and in the case of Jones, you could argue keep the whole thing from falling apart). Great track, great performance, thanks.
posted by togdon at 8:56 AM on November 30, 2011

From a Billboard review of the performance:
Climax of the third night was the appearance of the John Coltrane Quartet - an appearance which left the packed audience a little nonplussed. For Contrane played just one piece - "A Love Supreme" and it went on for 47 minutes. There were a few boos mingled with the applause at the end.
I wish I had the deluxe edition in front of me, but I do believe it preserves emcee Andre Francis' address to the crowd at the end. Here's a translation I found. Can't vouch for the accuracy, but the gist of it seems right:
That's it for this concert. (jeers) You can hear John Coltrane again tomorrow evening. (more jeers) Understand my friends that this music is not measured by the timepiece - more than anything John Coltrane's musical talent. He wanted to give us of his deepest self, so allow him to avoid repeating himself and to get some rest. (applause) Tomorrow night then, again - John Coltrane, Jimmy McGriff, and also the British band of Bruce Turner.
But then, 'Trane had a bit of a history with the French. Most notably, from a performance in Paris in 1960 when he was playing with the Miles Davis quintet...
It was one of Coltrane’s, and Miles’, most notorious appearances. Perhaps fuelled by his uncharacteristic anger, Coltrane’s performance is almost contemptuous in its uncompromising ugliness. It’s also one of his most inspired performances. His performances would not be so “far-out” again until 1965.

“All of You” is bad enough with its passages entirely in multiphonics, its weird altissimo shrills, and its barking honks. But “Bye Bye Blackbird” takes the cake. About midway into Trane’s solo, the air begins to fill with the distinct sound of Gallic boos and hisses, and the occasional contemptuous whistle.

Coltrane’s style had evolved light years beyond what it had been even when he had recorded Kind of Blue the previous year. The Bye Bye Blackbird performance sometimes seems even to ignore bar lines, simply allowing Coltrane to work off his frustrations in repeated, angry motifs, screeches and honks.

When the crowd keeps booing, Coltrane seems to falter at first; then in a sonic “big finger” he begins playing even more fiercely, as if deliberately trying to annoy the audience. When his solo ends, it is hard to tell if those are genuine cheers among the shouts of rage, or whether the crowd is simply relieved it’s all over.

After the performance Frank Tenot, a French jazz journalist, rushed backstage to find Trane. “Don’t you go too far?” he asked in English. Trane smiled gently. “I don’t go far enough” he replied.
Why yes, I did write my senior thesis on Coltrane and Davis. Why do you ask?
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

As for your other questions, I don't have the time or energy to answer them right now. Perhaps tomorrow.

No need, Flapjax. I think SpiffyRob has it covered.
posted by dragonsi55 at 11:05 AM on November 30, 2011

ah. thank you, mahershalal.
posted by dragonsi55 at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2011

. . . and last night, PBS Newshour did a little profile / interview with the now 81-year-old Sonny Rollins.

Rollins' second 'retirement' began in 1966 in the middle of Coltrane's most trancendent (and final) period, and there was a little joke going around -- sometime attributed to Rollins himself:

"Did you hear what happened to Sonny Rollins? He got run over a 'trane."
posted by Herodios at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2011

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