Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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A Love Supreme

John Coltrane


Spiritual jazz’s founding document.

Recorded on December 9, 1964, A Love Supreme raised the bar in terms of what jazz could strive to express. It is devotional in intent, with a long religious poem printed on the sleeve, plus a liner note in which John Coltrane alludes to his overcoming addiction and pinpoints his “spiritual awakening” in 1957.

As such, there’s an aura of solemnity here, clear from the opening notes of “Acknowledgement.” Coltrane weaves incantational tenor sax phrases until bassist Jimmy Garrison takes up the main four-note “A Love Supreme” motif, and drummer Elvin Jones drops a driving, multilayered beat with the subtlest Afro-Latin tinge. That group sound—that moment—became etched into jazz history like scripture on a stone tablet.

“My guys at the time weren’t really listening to Coltrane, but I was like, ‘This is what it is. This is where I am.’”


It’s astonishing to think of what Coltrane achieved in 10 years, between his debut as a leader in 1957 and his death in 1967 at age 40. A Love Supreme remains the watershed—concise yet thoroughly immersive, a founding document in the genre that would become known as spiritual jazz.