The John Coltrane Guide

From sideman to mesmerizer to evangelical to interstellar space

A Love Supreme (Deluxe Edition)
[1964–65 (2002), Impulse]

"Among the pious I am a scoffer: among the musical, I am religious" —George Bernard Shaw. Try thinking of the holy visitation in the grips of heroin withdrawal that Coltrane describes in the liner notes as a born-again experience, and this becomes his evangelical testimony. Coltrane's most celebrated work, and rightly so. (Along with dry runs, the in valuable bonus disk preserves Coltrane's only live performance of the work.)

Ascension
[1965, Impulse]

photo: Chuck Stewart

Details

See also:
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    More About

    Whenever people talk of Coltrane going off the deep end after A Love Supreme, this squalling tribal gathering organized around raw energy and a handful of chords is inevitably offered as Exhibit A. An artifact in which only the most intrepid will take pleasure, it's nevertheless essential for providing evidence of how Coltrane helped shaped the '60s avant-garde and how its rank and file reshaped him.

    Live at the Village Vanguard Again
    [1966, Impulse]

    Released on the heels of Meditations during my junior year in college. The studio album was the one I relied on for catharsis (or just consolation) at the time, but Again is the one I reach for now whenever I want to re-experience the thrill of hearing Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders storm the heavens arm in arm. And I think I realized it was more substantial right from the start.

    Interstellar Space
    [1967 (1 974), Impulse]

    Piano and bass were becoming residual by the last days of Coltrane's quartet; you braced yourself for the moment he abandoned any pretext of an underlying harmony and went mano a mano with Elvin Jones. These duets with Rashied Ali start there—and the spare compositional guidelines only up the intensity. By turns agitated and calm, loamy and celestial, this magnificent session was held back until '74—as if to ensure Coltrane's influence from beyond the grave.

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