John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme in December of 1964 and released it the following year. He presented it as a four-part suite, broken up into tracks: Acknowledgement (which contains the mantra that gave the suite its name), Resolution, Pursuance, and Psalm. It is intended to be a spiritual album, broadly representative of a personal struggle for purity, and expresses the artist’s deep gratitude as he admits to his talent and instrument as being owned not by him but by a spiritual higher power. Coltrane plays exclusively tenor on all parts.
It is in Psalm, Coltrane performs what he calls a “musical narration” of a devotional poem he included in the liner notes. That is, Coltrane “plays” the words of the poem on saxophone, but does not actually speak them. Some scholars have suggested that this performance is a homage to the sermons of African-American preachers. The poem (and, in his own way, Coltrane’s solo) ends with the cry “Elation. Elegance. Exaltation. All from God. Thank you God. Amen.”
James Cary describes his just-released video creation:
A few years ago, knowing I absolutely adored the John Coltrane album, “A Love Supreme” my wife gave me this incredible book by Ashley Kahn : “A Love Surpreme/The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album.” Reading the book, I discovered something remarkable: the fourth movement, Psalm, was actually John Coltrane playing the ‘words’ of the poem that was included in the original liner notes. Apparently he put the handwritten poem on the music stand in front of him, and ‘played’ it, as if it were music. I immediately played the movement while reading the poem, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. It was one of the most inspirational and spiritual moments of my life.
I’ve seen some nice versions of this posted on the net, but wanted to make one using his exact handwriting. I also wanted to keep it simple. The music and John’s poem are what’s important. I hope you enjoy this. I hope this inspires you, no matter what ‘God’ you may believe in.