John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’

A deep, new look at the mythos of one of the greatest albums of all time – John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” We listen back.

John Coltrane, jazz saxophonist shown in this undated photo. (AP)

John Coltrane, jazz saxophonist shown in this undated photo. (AP)

Jazz great John Coltrane did not mince words in the liner notes to his masterwork album “A Love Supreme.”

The brilliant saxophonist and composer had come through drug addiction and lost years and had, he wrote, “by the grace of God,” found “a spiritual awakening.”  “This album,” he wrote, “is a humble offering to Him.  An attempt to say ‘THANK YOU GOD.’”

The music has transported listeners ever since.  Up next On Point:  John Coltrane’s jazz epic “A Love Supreme” and its legacy.

– Tom Ashbrook


Tony Whyton, author of “Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album.” Professor of jazz and music cultures and the director of the Salford Music Research Centre at the University of Salford. (@tonywhyton)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: A Love Still Supreme, but a House in Ruin — “There is a ranch house out in the middle of Long Island, just south of the expressway in Dix Hills, where the saxophonist John Coltrane lived, started a family and composed “A Love Supreme” in the spare bedroom. The album is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving by a man who found peace and God after alcohol and heroin. It is the work that helped make Coltrane a jazz immortal.”

NPR: John Coltrane’s Eternal ‘A Love Supreme’ — “A Love Supreme was recorded one December evening in Rudy Van Gelder’s legendary studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Pianist McCoy Tyner remembers the unusual, almost magical atmosphere surrounding the session. ‘Rudy that day dimmed the lights in his studio. I’d never seen him do that and it sort of set an atmosphere. There was just something very, very special about that particular session.'”

Excerpt: ‘Beyond a Love Supreme’ by Tony Whyton

Reprinted from BEYOND A LOVE SUPREME: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album by Tony Whyton with permission from Oxford University Press, Inc.  Copyright © Oxford University Press 2013.


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