Taylor Ho Bynum on Coltrane’s Live A Love Supreme

Source: The Baffler.

Perhaps the most fetishized of all records is John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (1965). The saxophonist and composer is the rare figure revered amongst all factions of musicians in the field. Purists celebrate his prodigious technique and harmonic innovation; dedicated experimentalists follow the trail he blazed of ceaseless exploration, regardless of critical derision or commercial pressures. Other artists have been as explicit about the profound spiritualism that sits just beneath the surface of the sound, from swing-era pianist Mary Lou Williams to free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. But no one else combined it with his level of popular success and cultural influence. Though it is one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, even a neophyte would pause before putting A Love Supreme on as background music at a cocktail party as they might Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue or Ella Fitzgerald’s Song Books.