On December 9th, 1964, John Coltrane and his classic quartet (Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner) went into the legendary Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and recorded A Love Supreme–the four-part suite that has influenced musicians and reached generations of fans far beyond the jazz world. Far less known is the fact that Coltrane, his classic quartet and two additional musicians–the legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp and second bassist, Dr. Art Davis–returned to the studio the next day to cut the opening part of the suite again. Until now, the complete picture of what happened on those two days, including all takes, overdubs, and even studio chatter, has been unavailable.
That will change on November 6th when Verve Music Group proudly releases A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of this seminal recording. It will include this alternate version, taken from reels from the personal collection of John Coltrane and originally recorded in incredible sonic detail by Rudy Van Gelder, along with revised notes and detailed information on these amazing lost sessions. This release will kick off a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Verve label, which will include myriad catalog releases, digital exclusives and box sets through the end of 2016. (Verve includes the catalogs of legendary imprints like Impulse!, Decca, MGM, Blue Thumb and many more.)
With the availability of long-lost session reels, A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters brings together all existing recordings and written outlines for the first time to paint the most comprehensive and accurate picture of the A Love Supreme story. It reveals how Coltrane’s masterpiece came together, from its initial conception as a nine-piece performance–it turns out the original plan was for a nine-piece band, including three Latin percussionists–to how it changed and developed in the studio. While the 2002 edition of A Love Supreme did include some of the music recorded at the second session, The Complete Masters is the first to feature all six takes of “Acknowledgement,” the opening section of the suite, in their entirety, providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of how Coltrane would allow music to mature in the studio. The box also presents takes one and two of the track “Acknowledgement” from the sextet sessions in stereo for the first time.
A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters will be available in two formats: a 2 CD set, including the original best-selling album, along with unreleased mono “reference” versions of two tracks, owned by Coltrane himself, and seven unreleased performances from the two sessions. A 32 page booklet features an extensive essay by Ashley Kahn, noted producer, instructor and author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album, rare photographs from the sessions and all of Coltrane’s surviving musical sketches and written elements for the groundbreaking, four-part suite, including the words that would become the poem, “A Love Supreme.”
A 3 CD Super Deluxe Edition of A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters adds what is currently the only documented live recording of the album, a spirited, impromptu performance from the Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes in July 1965, which had been previously available on a 2002 edition of the album. This 3 CD set is presented in a larger format that includes additional information about the live material and a personal introduction by Carlos Santana.
A Love Supreme was Coltrane’s most pre-conceived, meticulously planned musical recording: “This is the first time I have everything ready,” he famously told his wife Alice after composing the suite in their Long Island home. It was also his most successful, a high-water mark in Coltrane’s career and popularity in 1965-generating two GRAMMY Award-nominations, and earning him top position in various polls that year. That A Love Supreme remains a permanent fixture in lists of Greatest and Most Important musical recordings of the modern era–Rolling Stone magazine places it at No. 47 in its “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time”–speaks to the enduring significance of Coltrane’s music and his message of spirituality.
In 2015, John Coltrane’s recordings continue to be studied and celebrated by musicians and music fans alike; the overwhelmingly critical success of the 2014 release of Coltrane’s 1966 concert recording, Offering: Live At Temple University, which garnered a GRAMMY Award for its liner notes, stands as further proof of the timeless reach of Coltrane’s musical innovations.
As Kahn writes in the essay to A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters: “Fifty years after its release, voices that speak of divine light and supreme love have trouble being heard. Lines that divide people run deep. At odds with itself, the world lacks the spirit to ascend and is needful once again of a spiritual recharger like A Love Supreme. The sound and message of John Coltrane remain more relevant than ever.”
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.