John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

More John Coltrane

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

  • This vintage Impulse Stereo copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, with two STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • One quality that stood out to us on this reissue pressing was just how ENERGETIC the best of them can be, and this one clearly qualifies as one of the best copies we have ever played
  • Tubier, more transparent and more dynamic than practically all other copies, with plenty of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has – thanks RVG!
  • Full-bodied and tonally correct from top to bottom – this copy IS guaranteed to bring Coltrane’s music to life in a way few pressings can
  • 5 stars: “One of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing, that at once compiled all of the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years.”
  • If you’re a Coltrane fan, this Impulse title from 1965 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1965 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The original Impulse pressings on the brown and orange label are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that plays into one of the biggest canards in all of record collecting, that the first pressings are always the best sounding.

For this album, having sampled a large group of pressings from every era, we found the originals to be inferior to the best reissues we played. Naturally the ones we offer here as Hot Stampers will be the best of those reissue pressings. We are not the least bit worried that this vintage Impulse LP won’t beat the pants off of any original as well as any reissue you may have heard. And of course it is guaranteed to be dramatically better sounding than any Heavy Vinyl pressing produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The Sound

This record is ALIVE! When you hear a record like this, you don’t need to play the 180 gram reissue to know that an early pressing such as this one is just going to murder it.

If you know anything about this music, you know that Coltrane is blasting away here and it is a thrill to hear him playing with such passion to be sure.

The clarity you will hear on this pressing does not come at the expense of brightness or thinness of any kind. In fact, just the opposite is the case, the sound is so rich and tubey you will be practically bowled over by it.

The extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum is one of the qualities that often sets the better copies apart from the pack. All the top end and the deep bottom end weight and fullness that are so essential to the sound are simply not to be found on most pressings — but here they are.

Tubes Are Key

If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an All Tube Analog recording from 1965 can be, this killer copy will do the trick.

Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

This IS the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is of course a CD of this album, but those of us who possess a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real John Coltrane live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of A Love Supreme Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For On A Love Supreme

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The saxophone isn’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. It’s front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — the legendary Rudy Van Gelder in this case — would put it.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A Love Supreme, Part I – Acknowledgement 
A Love Supreme, Part II – Resolution

Side Two

A Love Supreme, Part III – Pursuance / A Love Supreme, Part IV – Psalm

AMG  5 Star Rave Review

One of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing, that at once compiled all of the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years.

Recorded over two days in December 1964, Trane’s classic quartet–Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison– stepped into the studio and created one of the most the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship. From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical and emotionally varied soloing, while the rest of the group is completely atttuned to his spiritual vibe.

Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression. “Acknowledgement” is the awakening to a spiritual life from the darkness of the world; it trails off with the saxophonist chanting the suite’s title. “Resolution” is an amazingly beautiful, somewhat turbulent segment. It portrays the dedication required for discovery on the path toward spiritual understanding. “Pursuance” searches deeply for that experience, while “Psalm” portrays that discovery and the realization of enlightenment with humility.

Although sometimes aggressive and dissonant, this isn’t Coltrane at his most furious or adventurous. His recordings following this period–studio and live– become progressively untethered and extremely spirited. A Love Supreme not only attempts but realizes the ambitious undertaking of Coltrane’s concept; his emotional, searching, sometimes prayerful journey is made abundantly clear. Clocking in at 33 minutes; A Love Supreme conveys much without overstatement. It is almost impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it.