Recent years have seen a surge of posthumous releases by some of jazz music’s greatest figures, many of them unearthed under arbitrary circumstances. One of these seemingly random finds was released at the end of 2021 and is surely one of the most exciting of these hidden gems to be found in recent memory: a rare live recording of John Coltrane’s seminal concert suite, A Love Supreme.
The studio release of A Love Supreme from 1965 is widely regarded as the crown jewel in Coltrane’s discography, as well as one of the finest jazz records ever made. The material for A Love Supreme was recorded over a couple of different sessions, but the takes heard on the final album are the results of a single late-night recording session with Coltrane’s classic quartet. While the work is among Coltrane’s most acclaimed and best known, famously, he rarely performed A Love Supreme live. To date – more than half a century after its recording – only two live performances were known, and only one of them recorded. The new release on Impulse!, A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle, presents the third documented live performance, and only the second recorded live performance.
This new recording is a remarkable view into Coltrane’s vision for the work, as well as his continued development as an artist. Though the studio release of A Love Supreme features Coltrane’s quartet alone, it was initially conceived for a sextet, which this new live recording reflects, featuring Pharoah Sanders also on tenor sax, as well as a second bassist, Donald Garrett, joining Jimmy Garrison. The live format allows not only for exciting, extended renditions of each movement of the work, but also leverages the talents of the two bassists in some lengthy interludes that tie the segments together, something only hinted at on the studio recording. As the Seattle recording took place nearly a year after the initial studio recording, it also showcases Coltrane’s movement towards a freer sound and more collective improvisation – a hallmark of his late period recordings – and it’s fascinating to hear that kinetic energy couched in the more formal structure of A Love Supreme, augmenting the spiritual nature of the piece.
A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle is an electrifying new addition to any jazz enthusiast’s collection, and we are thrilled to add it to our library here at the station. Be sure to tune into The Coltrane Matrix on Fridays at 5:00 PM with Dan Adams to hear some of this rare and sensational live performance, only on Jazz 93.5!