John Coltrane and 'A Love Supreme' Analysis

By: Demi Browder

John Coltrane & His Journey

John Coltrane was an American Jazz saxophonist and composer born in North Carolina. John Coltrane is known for making modern jazz popular around the world. He is also known for his masterpiece, A Love Supreme. In, A Love Supreme, John Coltrane’s expresses his devotion to God, and battles of addiction that he was able to overcome. This 32-minute album consisted of four parts; Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance and Psalm. Each part introduces the audience a new detail of John Coltrane’s journey through a variety of feelings, tones, expression, and instrumental use. 

Analysis of Pursuance

In the album, Pursuance is the third part and it opens with a drum solo from Elvin Jones. Coltrane on the other hand comes in after with a fast and hectic tempo on the saxophone to express the chaos going on at his life at the time. He had already acknowledged his problem, came up with a solution, and now this is his expression of actually getting out of this dark place, by building his spirituality and determination to achieve something again. The energy in this part is unmatched as you can feel the anticipation and the soul-searching Coltrane experienced in his life. Towards the end, the tempo remains steady and soft as if this is where the searching has stopped and John has found himself again ready to move on to the next track in his recovery.  

'A Love Supreme' Influence

Once, A Love Supreme, was released in February 1965 it was immediately praised worldwide. John Coltrane was able to incorporate spiritual elements allowing a “spiritual jazz” to be born. This new genre of jazz incorporated jazz, blues, gospel, and folk elements, appealing to all audiences. This album received plenty of recognition from five-star reviews from magazines to 1966 Grammy nominations to going gold in not only the U.S. but countries in Europe. A Love Supreme, went on to inspire other artists and genres like rock, bands in the 60s incorporated similar styles found in this album. As well as multiple covers were made to each part allowing artists to feel what Coltrane was feeling and add their feelings as well. This album didn’t just awake and electrify John Coltrane’s spirituality and purpose, but it woke and impacted the rest of the world too. 

Sources

Brody, Richard. “Seeing Through ‘A Love Supreme’ to Find John Coltrane.” The New Yorker, Nov. 2015, www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/seeing-through-a-love-supreme-to-find-john-coltrane.

Waring, Charles. “’A Love Supreme’: John Coltrane’s Jazz Masterpiece Explained: UDiscover.” UDiscover Music, 12 Mar. 2021, www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/john-coltrane-a-love-supreme-explained/.

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