Coltrane has been one of the most important figures in my musical, artistic and personal development over the past decade. As a musician and person, he has served as a constant example and reminder of the level of authenticity, honesty, courage, passion, devotion, discipline, dedication, sacrifice, and mastery that is achievable on and off the bandstand. Preparing for this recital has been challenging in ways I did not expect, but it has led me deeper and closer toward my love of John Coltrane and the man he was; a love that seems to only grow with time.
By age 31 Coltrane, had been fired from multiple groups including the iconic Miles Davis’ for his drug and substance related habits. That year, he made the decision to get clean. He spent two weeks at his home in Philadelphia, withdrawing from alcohol and heroine; a drug that he had been using regularly since he was 22. 7 years later, he would refer to an experience he had during that withdrawal, in the liner notes to an album he called “A Love Supreme”: “During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.”
“I went through a personal crisis, and I came out of it,” Coltrane stated in an early 60’s interview (with Ralph Gleason). “I felt so fortunate to have come through it successfully that all I wanted to do, if I could, would be to play music that would make people happy.” In 1958 Coltrane told Down Beat’s Ira Gitler that his code was, “Live cleanly.... Do right.... You can improve as a player by improving as a person. It’s a duty we owe to ourselves.”
The process of preparing “A Love Supreme” has been an opportunity to think on these messages; to choose to connect with a powerful and profound essence that is woven within. It has been a chance for me to further study the work of a human being that stands for and wants to share and give something more than he is in flesh. “A Love Supreme” is a testament, an offering, a statement, a prayer, a meditation, a doctrine, and a vehicle for expression not just specific to Coltrane, but that is meant for all people.
released April 4, 2018
Jonathan Saraga, trumpet
Eric Gunnison, piano
Ken Walker, bass
Dru Heller, drums
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