Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drums: Pursuance

The John Coltrane Quartet: Pursuance (Part 3 of A Love Supreme)


I may be coming to this week's theme the wrong way round. I suspect that the rest of the SMM gang will first think of a song with a striking drum part; instead, I'm checking out some of my favorite drummers and looking for songs where they really shine. And for me, the shiniest drummers are found in jazz.

Elvin Jones played on a bunch of jazz albums you've probably heard, or heard of. His lengthy recording career (from the 40's to this century; he died in 2004) saw him backing major artists such as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Burrell, Yusef Lateef, Freddy Hubbard, Grant Green, Ornette Coleman, John McLaughlin, Dewey Redman, Bill Frisell…well, you get the idea. But one of his greatest periods was during his 5 year stint with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. The Quartet also featured McCoy Tyner on piano and Jimmy Garrison on bass.

A Love Supreme is one of the best examples of modal jazz, a free-form style pioneered by Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the late 50's and 60's. This four-part suite, released in 1965, is widely considered to be one of the best jazz recordings ever. Part 3 begins with a 90 second solo by Jones and demonstrates his polyrhythmic style, which is why I chose this track, but I encourage you to listen to the entire album, which was powerful and spiritual enough to launch the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church of San Francisco.

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