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A Love Supreme/The Legacy of John Coltrane by Turtle Island Quartet

Why all these categories? A Love Supreme features a string quartet ("classical") playing Coltrane ("jazz") so this release becomes "crossover" - a word suggestive of dabbling in another's territory. Actually, the Turtle Island Quartet has been immersed in jazz since their 1988 debut album which featured "Stolen Moments," "Tempus Fugit," Night in Tunisia" and "Milestones." Two founders, cellist Mark Summer and violinist David Balakrishnan, are on this recording while the two newest members, Mads Toling on viola and Evan Price on violin, have jazz/classical backgrounds.

The quartet explores Coltrane's compositions and tunes that he made his own. There's "Naima," with its ability to soothe, a spirited "Moment's Notice," and "Countdown," arranged by Price from a Coltrane solo. Their emotional reading of "'Round Midnight" will draw you into Monk's beautiful creation while it just wouldn't be Coltrane without those twists and turns on "My Favorite Things."

" La Danse de Bonheur," written by John McLaughltn, is the first of three Coltrane tribute tracks. Balakrishnan's arrangement of this edgy tune is a fiddler's dream. Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea's "Song for John," with its exchanges between soloists and ensemble, stresses his spiritual side while the quartet's "Model Train" (related to "So What" which appears as a bonus track) has the feel of a Coltrane performance.

Although nobody (and that includes tenor players) will ever bring to Cotrane's music his deeply personal anguish you will be amazed at the ability of Turtle Island to convey his passion, excitement and energy without horns or a conventional rhythm section. And his was hardly conventional - McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and the polyrhythmic Elvin Jones! This is particularly true of the intricate charts and strong solos that make up their version of Coltrane's four-part masterpiece and ultimate tribute, "A Love Supreme," which arises from those four simple musical syllables. Bob Blumenthal's beautifully-written liner notes allow the listener to easily understand how the Turtle Island Quartet gets all that done.

Blumenthal concludes by describing A Love Supreme as a magnificent recording from any vantage point. It is. No question.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Turtle Island Quartet
  • CD Title: A Love Supreme/The Legacy of John Coltrane
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Telarc
  • Rating: Five Stars
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