John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is one of the most towering works of art of the 20th century. It represents an ideal of jazz composition and performance: its simple four-note bassline anchors some of the most passionate playing of his career, and there’s not a single note out of place from anyone in the band. Each of the piece’s four movements flows seamlessly and logically from the one before, and though it’s less than 33 minutes long, when it reaches its conclusion, you realize there’s nowhere else he and his bandmates could have taken the music. (This is particularly true when one realizes that the final track, “Psalm,” is Coltrane reciting, through his horn, the poem that appears in the liner notes. You can actually read along with the music, syllable by syllable.) It’s a perfect album.
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