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A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album Paperback – October 28, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1ST edition (October 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003527
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Along with Miles Davis's seminal album, Kind of Blue, saxophonist John Coltrane's A Love Supreme is undoubtedly one of the world's most influential jazz recordings. Recorded with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones over the course of one evening in 1964, the record "caught Coltrane at a pivotal point in his creative trajectory: the crystallizing of his four years with this renowned quartet, moments before his turn toward the final, most debated phase of his career." In A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album, Ashley Kahn (Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece) covers how the album was made, where it was made, why it is so important and how it reached such a broad audience (it is one of the top-selling jazz albums of all time). Music fans and historians will devour the book, which is rife with anecdotes and commentary from Bono, Phil Lesh, Alice Coltrane (Coltrane's widow); black-and-white photographs; and previously unpublished interviews with Coltrane himself. It features a foreword written by Elvin Jones.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Jazz writing appears to be moving toward high art, with Kahn leading the way. In his second study of a groundbreaking jazz recording (the first was on Miles Davis's Kind of Blue), he addresses the less obvious aspects of Coltrane's album, including the saxophonist's ideas and the actual recording session, interweaving them all with snippets of interviews with the Coltrane family and musical cohorts. Five brief sections, or interludes, discuss topics like the label that released the record (Impulse), the producer, and related poetry, while the epilog concisely summarizes the text. A Love Supreme, Kahn reveals, was a spiritual manifesto that touched countless listeners. Many issues come to the fore: the cultural movements of the mid-1960s, including expression of spiritual values, and technical musical challenges. Coltrane fulfilled his desire to record in one finite session without regard to commercial pressures. He was able to pull together much of his previous work and concentrate it in one piece. The only book-length treatment of the record, this is absolutely essential jazz history for all libraries. [This book's publication coincides with the Verve Music Group's release of an expanded, two-disc version of A Love Supreme.-Ed.]-William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhea.
--William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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One of the best music books I've read in years.
wonderwheel
Ashley Khan's A Love Supreme is a useful book and is a must read for both casual and serious jazz fans and followers of John Coltrane.
C. R. Fontana
In fact, Porter is cited often in this book & this book is cited often in the Porter book.
Mark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. In fact I was just ordering a few extra copies to give as gifts to serious jazz connoisseurs when I came across this drivel from Rich Fontana in the customer reviews section. I felt that as a fan of both the album and the book, I am compelled to reply to his assiduously prepared critique.
In taking the author to task for being a fan, he misses the point of the book entirely: it is intended as a passionate celebration as much as carefully researched study. The author admits it unabashedly, Coltrane himself stated that an "emotional reaction" to music was paramount (in a '64 interview with Leonard Feather) and how else can one measure the effect and influence of a spiritual album without engaging the emotional?
As stated clearly by the author, and Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner - A Love Supreme was indeed a culmination of the quartet's three years together, not a culmination of Coltrane's career. Yes, Crescent was important and the author states that, even proposing it as an effective blueprint for the four-part suite that ALS is. Mr. Fontana's argument that his own perspective on Crescent is significantly different from the author's goes so far into the realm of picayune that - if it were deemed important enough to be published -- the vast majority of readers would end up scratching their heads and closing the book. (And while on the subject of hair-splitting, Crescent was recorded and released in 1964 - not 1963 - as Mr. Fontana maintains, an important matter in the hyper-charged Trane timeline.)
As to Kahn's use (another small matter apparently missed by someone who relishes detail: the author's name is K-A-H-N) of rock n' rollers (and minimalists, and world musicians) in gauging the reach and influence of ALS.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Scott Woods on January 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Kahn has cemented himself in the hearts of the jazz community with the unveiling of this uber-researched tome of the making of the classic album "A Love Supreme". Much like his incredibly well-researched yet accessible "Kind of Blue", he covers the history of the artist, his career up to the point of the record in question, and the impact of the record from every angle: financially, artistically, culturally, etc. Getting the inside scoop from people who were at the sessions is priceless stuff, and the look at the times in which these albums were created gives one all sorts of new insight that simply wasn't available before the writing of this book. When he breaks down how the album cover was picked, you know you've got the inside scoop. Also covers the rumored "lost session" that had doubled instrumentation featured versions of the album recorded the following day (didn't know they recorded this thing in one day? GET THE BOOK).
If there's a stone left unturned from here on, it's only because John Coltrane took it to the grave with him.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By wonderwheel on December 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A gorgeous book, it gracefully fuses art and literature into a beautiful form with a most compelling story. Any jazz fan will appreciate the depth of the writers research into the making of this historical album and into the mind of the master. The interviews are fresh and fascinating, the photos sublime. One of the best music books I've read in years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kool Side on March 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ashley Khan did a great job. I first picked up Coltrane's A Love Supreme, in the early 90's while a teenager, in a used section of a Parisian jazz record store, at that time i was only basicly educated about music and jazz. When i first played that album i was spiritualy moved and fell in love with it. I had no idea then of the importance of that record in Coltrane's career or in jazz in general, but the music touched my soul, and took me on a journey, which have been my life's journey and spiritual quest.

For the past 10 years i have been playing that record before evey major key events of my life... as a way to pray and meditate... i had no idea this album have been such a spiritual listening experience for other people before i started learning more about Coltrane and music. For this, Kahn's book is a very good illustration of the importance of that particular record. It is well written, have beautifull pictures and some precious informations. It contains basic elements about Coltrane's life, but reading Colrane's bio can remain a necessity. The making of a love supreme is a must read. Peace.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Bakken on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book that lets you discover more about the classic album. Kahn not only lets us in on the recording session, but his interviews seem to bring out the best in the subject and that is the best part of both his books - The jazz musicians themselves telling us what it was like and what it meant.
As for the previous reviewer who decided not to buy the book because of Bono. Bad move, because Bono is mentioned once or twice for about a sentence each time.
In order to show the reach and influence of "A Love Supreme", Kahn asked some modern musicians what it meant to them. Bono was one of them.
Highly Recommended!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By matthewslaughter on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Kahn's stellar research for this volume on Coltrane's best known album, "A Love Supreme," is undermined by sloppy prose and lack of focus. Kahn does a great job showing just how powerful the album has been for generations of listeners, from Wayne Shorter to Bono. The biographical material on Coltrane is very good, but profoundly impersonal, skipping over key aspects of his life. The best part of the book is his meticulous documentation of the December 9 & 10, 1964 sessions that resulted in this album. Kahn describes the music with vivid language, and includes details about where Elvin Jones' drums were placed and how Rudy Van Gelder lit the studio to create a Jazz Club atmosphere for the performers. After that, Kahn's book loses focus. It's as if he had a 100 page manuscript, but then the folks at Penguin asked him to make it 250, and he had scratch around for any extra material he could find. His assessment of Coltrane's career post-"A Love Supreme" is very tepid, and the chapter on the legacy of the recording, especially from the vantagepoint of JOWCOL publishing, shows promise, but ultimately goes nowhere. Kahn's major problem here is that he doesn't know who his audience is. Is it for die-hard Trane-iacs, or is it for the casual listener that has "A Love Supreme" and no other Coltrane album? Some of this might not be Kahn's fault, as the content suggests this is for experts, but the formating of the book, with its wide margins and coffee-table book size, make it seem as if it's simply for show and tell in some bourgeois apartment. The book could have been better organized, more historically contextual, and filled with glossaries and footnotes for the more casual fans.Read more ›
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