|AMG Review by Jack LV Isles (5):
Easily one of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing that at once compiled all of his innovations from his past, spoke of his current deep spirituality, and also gave a glimpse into the next two and a half years (sadly, those would be his last). Recorded at the end of 1964, Trane's classic quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison stepped into the studio and created one of the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship (not to mention his best-selling to date). From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical yet emotionally varied soloing while the rest of the group is remarkably in tune with Coltrane's spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression leading to an understanding of spirituality through meditation. From the beginning, "Acknowledgement" is the awakening of sorts that trails off to the famous chanting of the theme at the end, which yields to the second act, "Resolution," an amazingly beautiful piece about the fury of dedication to a new path of understanding. "Persuance" is a search for that understanding, and "Psalm" is the enlightenment. Although he is at times aggressive and atonal, this isn't Trane at his most adventurous (pretty much everything recorded from here on out progressively becomes much more free, and live recordings from this period are extremely spirited), but it certainly is his best attempt at the realization of concept — as the spiritual journey is made amazingly clear. A Love Supreme clocks in at just over 30 minutes, but if it had been any longer it could have turned into a laborious listen. As it stands, just enough is conveyed. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without A Love Supreme having been made, and it is equally impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it.
AMG Review by Alex Henderson (4):
Inevitably, certain jazz titles will be reissued over and over. Miles Davis' seminal Kind of Blue has been reissued many times, and you can safely assume that A Love Supreme will continue to be a decent seller (by jazz standards) as long as it keeps getting reissued. What separates this deluxe 2002 reissue of the John Coltrane classic from all of the previous versions that have come out over the years? For one thing, this version is a two-CD set; the previous versions were either single CDs or single LPs. While disc one offers the digitally remastered (again) contents of the original A Love Supreme, disc two is devoted to previously unreleased material — all of which is aimed at serious collectors. Part of disc two focuses on a July 26, 1965, appearance at the Antibes Jazz Festival in France, where Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones perform A Love Supreme's four-piece suite in its entirety. The quartet favors an inside/outside approach, and their live performances of "Acknowledgment," "Resolution," "Pursuance," and "Psalm" are more accessible than the atonal free jazz that Coltrane provided in 1966 and 1967. The rest of disc two is devoted to studio material from December 1964, including alternate takes of "Resolution" and "Acknowledgment." Collectors will be thrilled to learn that the two "Acknowledgment" outtakes find tenor saxman Archie Shepp and bassist Art Davis joining Coltrane's quartet; neither Shepp nor Davis are present on any of the previous A Love Supreme reissues. Casual listeners are advised to pass on this double CD and stick to a single-CD version of A Love Supreme — this two-disc set is strictly for collectors and hardcore fans, and those who fit that description will no doubt find it to be fascinating.
***** The Remastering and Repackaging of a Classic., November 17, 2002
Reviewer: Addicted to the Groove (Boston, MA) - Amazon.com
John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is an elegant masterpiece. A flawlessly conceived suite with spiritual overtones, "A Love Supreme" features the saxaphonist at his most reverend and focused. The repackaged edition is an example of what happens when you take a great record and make it even better. Disc one has the entire album painstakingly remastered by Rudy Van Gelder, and the sound is significantly superior the original monaural mix. On the new version, we witness a huge improvement in clarity, and Coltrane projects even more fully than we've heard before. But disc two, which clocks in at 77 minutes, is the Real Deal for Coltrane completists. Those who have bootlegged copies of the France live recording can now toss them out the window, for that performance, along with a few alternative takes of other tracks, surfaces here. The live performance, recorded in July 1965, is a must-listen for any lover of jazz. In fact, in many respects, I think it's just as good as the original version. For example, I was really blown away by the live rendition of "Pursuance," which kicks off with a fierce two-and-a-half minute drum solo by Elvin Jones that must be heard to be believed. Coltrane then goes full throttle with his sax and amazingly holds his own during this 21-minute excursion which is sure to leave you amazed. "A Love Supreme" is one of those albums that you can't say "no" to. If you have to own any copy of this classic, this version is definitely the way to go. Not only is the sound quality better, but the outstanding live performance and alternative takes on disc 2 provide a more intimate look at this recording. Highly, highly recommended.