It has been a true rarity to hear John Coltrane’s profoundly seminal album, “A Love Supreme,” performed in a live setting. As of late, there was only one recording of a live performance which was played at the Festival Jazz d’Antibes in Juan-les-Pins, France in 1965. That recording was released to the world in 2002.
Now, Coltrane fans have a fresh opportunity to hear “A Love Supreme” live performance as Impulse! has uncovered and released a 1965 full performance of the album which was recorded by a close friend of Coltrane’s, Joe Brazil, during a weeklong series of shows at the Penthouse in Seattle in 1965. Nate Chinen of NPR reports that “Brazil used the club system, two microphones and an Ampex reel-to-reel, and then preserved the tapes for nearly half a century as if guarding a Holy Grail. They were found in his archive after his death in 2008.” The engineer for the album, Kevin Reeves, expressed in a press release, “What’s remarkable is that tapes from this era often suffer over the years from heat or moisture damage, or simply being stacked horizontally.”
“A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle” is due out Oct. 8 and features Pharoah Sanders, Donald Rafael Garrett, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Carlos Ward can also be heard on the album. The band plays together with seamless chemistry giving the live performance a beauty and testament to how this live performance is essential to jazz history as Coltrane’s thoughts and compositional imagination can be translated live and in the recording studio. He assembled the perfect band at the perfect moment in time, creating further documentation of Coltrane’s intelligence and intuitiveness as a bandleader.
Hank Shteamer of Rolling Stone writes, “It opens with a free-time swell featuring Tyner’s swirling piano, and Jones’ crashing cymbals and rumbling, mallet-struck toms, as Coltrane digs into the somber, gospel-like theme. The piece gradually builds in intensity, with Jones’ drums exploding out of the mix, before ramping down and giving way to a final bowed-bass duet from Garrison and Garrett.”
“A Love Supreme” is the pinnacle of Coltrane’s spiritual search for musical inspiration and unwieldy deep expression. The album was released just a few years before his death in 1967 which finds Coltrane at his finest, refined, self-reflective and tightly connected to his band and to the experience of deep artistic exploration. This new recording is a gem that sits amongst so many amazing offerings of the larger-than-life jazz musician. This recording stands out because there were so few live performances of “A Love Supreme” and gives Coltrane lovers an opportunity to hear something that has only been experienced by a handful of onlookers who were blessed enough to be there in person taking Coltrane and his band in on such a fortuitous event.