Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Love Supreme/John Coltrane




As it evolved, so the quartet sound came to be dominated increasingly by what were essentially battles between Coltrane and (drummer Elvin) Jones, whose drums are like a wave that never quite breaks, that never stops breaking ... the soprano seems about to be drowned by the weight of drums but then emerges again, floating clear of the tidal wave of percussion crashing over it ... Jones is murderous: it seems impossible that the saxophone can survive the pounding of the drums. Coltrane is on the cross, Jones is hammering in the nails. Prayer turns to scream. If Jones sounds as though he wants to destroy him, then Coltrane certainly wanted -- needed -- him to try. But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz, by Geoff Dyer.

A Love Supreme
, by John Coltrane.

That's it: my Number One Heartbreaker. I don't understand this album. I can't figure out how the music "works" (Dyer's metaphors are as good an "explanation" as any). I've seen magazine columnists recommend this album for background music to a romantic dinner. I can't imagine. Of all the CDs I've played while driving, this is the only one to force me to pull over to the side of the road and stop.

I can't really break it down, because it breaks me down first.

I don't understand Coltrane's spirituality. I have no idea what came over him and consumed him. As my New Testament scholar-friend is overly-fond of saying: "Something happened."

Something happened, and now we have this heartbreaking work.

3 comments:

Rob in Victoria said...

Interesting...
I've never found ALS to be heartbreaking - I find it an exultant, exhuberant song of praise, an utterly transendant expression of faith in the face of the world. But not heartbreaking.

Kind of Blue? Listen to that in a lonely hotel room in downtown Toronto and tell me your heart doesn't break.

DarkoV said...

Wow!
I'm simply blown away by your choice. Out of left field, one hop, right to the plate.
Excuse me while a build a Lego statue to you, WP, and place offerings before it.
WHat a fabulous choice!

Whisky Prajer said...

RiV - funny you should mention Kind of Blue in the context of a Toronto hotel room, since they both figured prominently in my weekend. Mind you, I wasn't alone. I mean, I *was* alone ... with my wife, that is ... and .... nevermind. All this to say, I have an easier time transposing KoB to romance than I do ALS.

DV - Lego statue, eh? Oh, the possibilities...