Friday February 07, 2014

A Love Supreme: God in the Music of John Coltrane

Listen to Full Episode 53:59
Coltrane Featured

Photo Credit: AP File

This week on Tapestry, we explore the music and spirituality of the jazz great John Coltrane. To some jazz fans, he was the high priest of the avant-garde movement. And to others, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane was a saint. 

For more on the show and our guest...
Winnipeg's  Reverend Jamie Howison wrote a book about the music and theology of John Coltrane. It's called  God's Mind in that Music: Theological Explorations through the Music of John Coltrane. 

When Rev. Howison puts on a  John Coltrane record, he braces for something pretty profound: "It's kind of like eavesdropping on someone praying, frankly." 

The musician Carlos Santana used to have a ritual. He'd play a John Coltrane album at four in the morning, as a kind of meditation. In Santana's words:  "I could hear God's mind in that music ... I heard the Supreme One playing music through John Coltrane's mind."  Carlos Santana wasn't the first to make the connection between theology and saxophone.  Coltrane's music led one reviewer to say "I'm agnostic - and yet, John Coltrane's masterpiece, A Love Supreme, has almost made me see God."

In this episode, Rev. Jamie Howison takes Mary Hynes for a tour through the music and soul of John Coltrane. 

Here are the recordings featured in this programme: 

Spiritual from the album  Live at the Village Vanguard

Ascension (Part II) from  Ascension 

Pt. 1: Acknowledgement; Pt. 2: Resolution; Pt. 4: Psalm from  A Love Supreme 

The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost from  Meditations

Alabama from  Live at Birdland

Misterioso from  Live at Iridium, New York

Crescent, Lonnie's Lament and Wise One from  Crescent 

Naima from  Giant Steps