6A        Morning Edition
9A        Music
3P        Fresh Air
4P        All Things Considered
6:30P  The Daily

7P        Eclectic After Dark
banner101 3

any musical genre. Easily one of the most celebrated jazz recordings ever made, it radiates a deep, devotional gravitas — a palpably focused ardor that has long inspired actual worship, as Jazz Night in America explored in a recent documentary short.

For Coltrane — among the most revered saxophonists, then as now — A Love Supreme also stood as a pinpoint moment in a changing picture. The mid-'60s were a period of hurtling evolution for him, as he pushed ever further into musical catharsis and away from the familiar moorings of jazz performance. He was seeking a direct spiritual expression that would set the standard for a cadre of improvisers coming up behind him, like fellow tenor heralds Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp, who both appeared on his free-jazz landmark, Ascension,in June of '65.

That July, a month after the Ascension sessions, Coltrane and his quartet played the only widely known performance of ALove Supreme, at the Festival Jazz d'Antibes in Juan-les-Pins, France. The set was included on a deluxe reissue of the album in 2002; this moment has also been preserved through some brief footage available online, which can feel almost miraculous to behold.

Footage of Coltrane's performance in Antibes, France in 1965.


The Antibes recording has stood as the lone living document of Coltrane's suite — until today, when Impulse! announced the October release of A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle. Recorded at the end of a weeklong residency at The Penthouse by Joe Brazil, one of Coltrane's trusted friends, it presents this music in a glorious new light, and with remarkably clear sound. (Brazil used the club system, two microphones and an Ampex reel-to-reel, and then preserved the tapes for nearly half a century, as if guarding a Holy Grail. They were found in his archive after his death in 2008.)

The fact that Coltrane performed A Love Supreme in Seattle in 1965 has long been known to a small circle of dwindling eyewitnesses and deep Trane-ologists — like jazz historian Lewis Porter, who wrote one of the essays in the new album's liner notes. But because there was never any audio documentation, the fact was never more than a footnote in A Love Supreme lore.

A poster advertising Coltrane's run of performances during which A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle was recorded. Courtesy Impulse! Records hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy Impulse! Records

Besides, there was already a separate chronicle of this engagement: Live in Seattle, a double album released in 1971, several years after Coltrane's death. (Last year, the Seattle Times included it on a short list of essential live albums made in the Emerald City.) For proponents of Coltrane's late period, with its plunge into tumultuous abstraction, Live in Seattle is a touchstone. For some other listeners, it can be a forbiddingly strong elixir. In his book John Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Ben Ratliff characterized it alongside other albums of the period as "expressions of blazing single-mindedness; they can express what the poet Robert Lowell, one of Coltrane's contemporaries, once called 'the monotony of the sublime.' "

The music on A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle is sublime in every sense of the word, without a trace of monotony. Its release is as significant an event in jazz-historical terms as any archival gem unearthed in the last decade or more. But that's an academic way of stating the case, which is that this album contains both the focused fire of A Love Supreme, as a call of gratitude to the divine, and the more chaotic fervor of the "New Thing" then coalescing in Coltrane's creative circle. It feels fully realized and bursting with possibility, all at the same time.

Some of this surely has to do with the combination of a telepathic working band and an eager set of interlopers. Along with Coltrane's fearless rhythm section — McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums — the recording includes robust guest contributions by Sanders, alto saxophonist Carlos Ward and a second bassist, Donald "Rafael" Garrett. The chemistry among this cohort is fearsome, and by no means a settled proposition. When the album is released in physical form, it will include liner notes by Porter and another noted Coltrane historian, Ashley Kahn, which shed valuable light on this notion and more.

This morning, along with its announcement, Impulse released "A Love Supreme Pt. IV – Psalm," the piece that concludes the set and the suite. As even a casual Coltrane-ologist will tell you, the recitative melody of this movement scans neatly with the prayerlike poem printed as the liner notes for A Love Supreme — a feature that Coltrane never made explicit, though it holds up to scrutiny; Porter is among those who brought this insight into the public consciousness.

The live version of "Psalm" begins precisely as the album version does: in an anticipatory rustle of piano and percussion, with Coltrane's tenor stating the melody in a distinctly vocal register. Within the first minute, though, he reaches toward an ecstatic mode, before receding into a simmer. Tyner and Jones are spectacularly attuned to the flux of his dynamics and cadence, rolling in free tempo through their extrapolation of the theme. (Pay attention to the moments of ebbing quiet, and how they return to a fever pitch as naturally as the tide lapping a shore.)

When the piece is over, leaving just a meditative ellipsis of prayer bells, Coltrane's audience seems almost too overwhelmed for a proper ovation. (Earlier in the suite — after "Part III – Pursuance," for instance — the response is more assured and sustained.) Perhaps it was the sheer intensity of the experience, which could have made clapping seem like something other than the appropriate response. Perhaps, judging by the quiet before a second round of applause, the club patrons were gauging some uncertain signal from the stage.

Or, as is always possible, it could be that a portion of those in the room simply weren't prepared to process what they'd just witnessed. It wouldn't be the first time for Coltrane, nor the last. But if they weren't ready then, some 56 years ago, we're surely ready now.

  • SoCo Calendar
  • Talk To Me
  • Hiding Places
  • Birdwatch
  • Stickers!
  • KRCB-Me
  • Living Downstream
Be on KRCB 104.9...answer this month's "Talk to Me" question: With fire season upon us, are you having second thoughts about Sonoma County?
You can do a recording right from your computer or smartphone, but please use an external microphone (ear buds are good enough). Don't worry, you can try as many times you like until you get a "good take." We won’t hear any of the bad ones. After you finish, the page will give you a chance to listen and decide if you like it. Once you get a good one, you'll be asked for your name and email address. Then hit "Send.” (Click "reset" if you would rather try again.)
Go to the recorder page
Each week, Santa Rosa-based travel writer Dana Rebmann introduces us to great local spots to visit. Listen on-air for the latest. Or click here:
Crane Creek Regional Park
Marijke's Sculpture Grove
Read More

Listen to the Sonoma County Birdwatch!

fullerThroughout the week, we play short segments about what birds are out in Sonoma County and what they sound like, from Harry Fuller. Here's what we've aired so far. Harry spent his working career as a TV and Internet newsman in the Bay Area.  He’s been leading bird trips and writing about birds for thirty years.  He has written three natural history books: Freeway Birding, I-5 San Francisco to Seattle; San Francisco’s Natural History, Sand Dunes to Streetcars; Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon & Washington. He blogs regularly about birds:  And he frequently leads birding trips on the Pacific Coast. Check him out at

window stickerGet Your Free KRCB 104.9 Window Sticker
Get yours today at these friends of KRCB:
-Stanroy Music, Santa Rosa
-The Next Record Store, Santa Rosa
-All 10 SoCo Mary's Pizzas
-Acre Coffee (SR, Petaluma, Sebastopol)
-Wolf House Brewing, Cloverdale
They might look like bumper stickers, but they're meant to stick to the inside surface of glass.

We've got a new thing: text KRCB to (707) 606-0911. Or just add your cell number below. We'll text you back when we have something special on the radio--so you can listen live or with a link to listen later. No spam! Not more than once a week or so. Try KRCB-Me.

Our podcast "Living Downstream" has been named by the Global Center for Climate Justice as one of "Five Climate Justice Podcasts You Need to Follow." Wow:

Listen to some recent episodes! Generations in Houston's Fifth Ward Contend with Contamination, Cancer Clusters will break your heart, and perhaps solidify your resolve to make change. The Sea Next Door is told in true partnership with the community living near California's Salton Sea, an environmental powder keg, where the state has no idea how to avoid a coming health disaster.

Get them here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.