REVIEW: John Coltrane's A Love Supreme at Union Chapel

L-R: Rowland Sutherland, Steve Williamson, Shabaka Hutchings
Photo credit: Richard Kaby

John Coltrane's A Love Supreme
(Union Chapel, London. 9th December 2014. Review by Erminia Yardley)

9th December 1964 - an important date: John Coltrane records the incredible “A Love Supreme”in one session at the Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey. All jazz heads - and non-jazz ones too - will agree this is a seminal piece of recording.

So when attending the stupendous rendition by the Enlightenment ensemble at the Union Chapel exactly 50 years later to the day, one cannot but sit and listen in awe to the fantastic interpretation these musicians render. Directed by Orphy Robinson, who is also on xylosynth, A Love Supreme kicks off with a magnificent start.

There is such homogeneity in this ensemble of super-talents. Avant-garde jazz at its best, one doesn’t know where to look. Fifteen magnificent solo performances from musicians who also play together like a beautiful wave of soft electrical charge hitting one’s head and heart.

Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Steve Williamson on tenor saxophone: a lethal combination. One looks at the other enjoying one another’s playing and offering the audience a gem every time.

There are parts added to the composition for kora, tablas and also the wonderfully played bata drums. Coltrane was very much inspired by Indian and West African music. Composer and flautist Rowland Sutherland manages to insert these instruments with the greatest of ease giving a touch of real cosmopolitan fusion to a perfectly formed ensemble.

A special mention is needed for the delicious and powerful piano playing of Nikki Yeoh and the eclectic drums of Mark Mondesir.

A magical night with a standing ovation at the end. Crowds dissolve into the night, there is such a buzz in the air outside the Chapel. It had been a mesmerizing piece of enlightenment.

LINK: Paul Bradshaw's preview