Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
A Love Supreme Electric — A Love Supreme and Meditiations
(Cuneiform Rune 470/471, 2020, 2CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2021-10-07
Virtually no one seriously questions the proposition that John Coltrane is one of the giants of jazz, and A Love Supreme (1965) and Meditations (1966) stand as two of his greatest achievements, earning spots in the list of most influential jazz recordings of all time. With A Love Supreme Electric, a group of contemporary musicians with significant accomplishments of their own have come together to interpret the music on those two classic albums. Vinny Golia (saxophones), John Hanrahan (drums), Henry Kaiser (guitar), Wayne Peet (organ), and Mike Watt (bass) bring their own spin to these pieces, perhaps ranging far afield sonically from Coltrane’s original but capturing the spirit and essence of the music admirably. Coltrane’s compositions of this period are not tightly defined pieces with precise parts, being more like structures with melodic suggestions, harmonic frameworks, and the occasional set bass riff. It’s all about where you go based on the original ideas, and Coltrane’s own performances took broad liberties with the material — not that much of it is documented with live releases. In any case, A Love Supreme and Meditations features this crew tackling the tracks from both albums in a very electric fashion, with Kaiser’s guitar and Peet’s organ setting the agenda, and Watt’s electric bass shining on the low end. Hanrahan’s work is not familiar to me, but he’s outstanding here, balancing freedom and propulsion skillfully. Golia is certainly up to the task of Coltrane’s legacy, whether on tenor, soprano, or baritone, and his solos are creative and emotive. Kaiser is his usual stellar self, venturing into all manner of textures: crazy slide, wild effects, unusual techniques, all of which work perfectly for the material. The organ is a real surprise — Peet doesn’t sound at all like typical jazz organ here, providing cosmic walls of sound that suggest tonalites more than standard (or even extended) chords and melodies. Watt has moved well beyond his punk origins and is fully at home in this improvisational setting. His solos are exceptional, and he is a creative force whenever he’s playing. A Love Supreme Electric is a worthy addition to the legacy of Coltrane’s classic work, and a hell of a fun ride for fans of avant jazz.
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