This page has been getting a ton of traffic since the first airing of Chasing the Trane, on PBS, so I'd like to point new readers to two more recent and substantive pages on Coltrane:
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If there is anything sacred in jazz, it's Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." Mention the album in conversation with any serious musician and there is guaranteed to be a palpable sense mystique and reverence. Coltrane's short and, at times, tumultuous life seems to have lead him to this pinnacle album, a musical manifesto of sorts. He is widely known for expressing his desire for his music to heal and bring people together. He didn't do this through surface level entertainment, but through a profound musical statement that is rooted in transcending the human experience.
For many, the most profound aspect of Coltrane's A Love Supreme suite is part IV, "Psalm." Its impact comes in part from the liner notes to the album where a poem, also titled A Love Supreme, can be found (see below). Coltrane's playing on "Psalm" is, in Coltrane's words, a musical narration. In fact, with few exceptions, one can read the entire poem, along with Coltrane's, and it makes for breathtaking experience.
I created this video in order to illustrate the fact that Coltrane's piece "Psalm" is a musical recitation of his poem, "A Love Supreme."
Learn more about jazz and poetry here.
One thing is for sure: Coltrane, favoring music far over language as his chosen means of expression, never again put as much effort into public writing. The letter and poetic libretto he penned constitute the highest yield of his investment in the power of the written word; to this day they remain as inherent a part of A Love Supreme as the phrasing of his saxophone.