May 9, 2009

PRAYER NOTES:

Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' Live, With Strings (JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, May 7, 2009, NPR)

A Love Supreme, by John Coltrane and his powerful quartet, remains a towering and seemingly untouchable jazz classic. But the virtuosic genre-benders in the Turtle Island Quartet have done it justice, re-working the seminal album for strings and winning a Grammy for their trouble. They recently performed a live version, captured live for JazzSet, at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. [...]

[V]iolinist and arranger David Balikrishnan explains his approach to A Love Supreme and each of the movements: "Acknowledgment," "Resolution," "Pursuance" and "Psalm." The first is a transcription of the entire Coltrane saxophone solo, in which Balikrishnan hears melodic material that reminds him of Sibelius and Shostakovich, and orchestrates it for the four strings.

In the second and third movements, Balikrishnan returns to "our jazz thing," with improvisation over a rhythm section. The fourth movement, "Psalm," is a prayer to God. Legend has it that Coltrane brought a Psalm to the studio and set it on a music stand, then played the prayer note for note. Uniting the composition, Balikrishnan uses the "mantra, a heartbeat" — the four-note figure "A Love Su-preme" that underscores the original.



Posted by Orrin Judd at May 9, 2009 8:59 AM
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