A Record Supreme

Symposium, concerts at SF Jazz to celebrate Coltrane masterpiece
A Love Supreme 50th Anniversary

The potent brew that was the San Francisco Sound resulted from a variety of mid-century ingredients and influences. The San Francisco Jazz Festival will explore one of its less-recognized inspirations this month with a series of concerts and a symposium dedicated to the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's post-bop masterpiece, 'A Love Supreme.'

"Everybody was paying attention to Coltrane anyway, but ‘A Love Supreme' raised it way above just the jazz scene," Grammy-nominated jazz historian Ashley Kahn said in an interview last week. "It's more than a record. It's really kind of Coltrane's self-portrait."

Kahn, author of several books including one on this record, will be joined on the symposium panel Wednesday December 10 by the artist's son, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, plus Michael Shrieve from Santana, Sam Andrews from Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jazz Festival Poet Laureate Ishmael Reed. It will be moderated by festival founder and Executive Artistic Director Marshall Kline and followed by four nights of concerts dedicated to the Coltrane sound.

It was a quote in Kahn's 'A Love Supreme' book that partly inspired Kline to put together the series, one in which Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead described the influence of the 1965 release on the burgeoning San Francisco scene.

"It was an audacious effort on the part of a working saxophonist ... to do something that was dedicated to God," Kahn said of the album, recorded by Coltrane's quartet in a single December session. "Nobody in 1964, when he recorded the album, thought of jazz as something that went with spirituality.

"Jazz was for Saturday night. Music for ‘godly' purposes was done on Sunday morning," he said of Coltrane's spiritual journey, a direction reportedly inspired by a near overdose in 1957. "The two were thought of as separate things."

For more information about the symposium and concerts, click here.