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Christian McBride On 'A Love Supreme' And Its Descendants

John Coltrane during the recording of <em>A Love Supreme</em> in December 1964.
John Coltrane during the recording of <em>A Love Supreme</em> in December 1964.

Christian McBride remembers very well the first time he heard A Love Supreme, the John Coltrane classic that turns 50 this month. The bassist, composer and host of NPR's Jazz Night in America was in high school in Philadelphia, and had grown friendly with the staff at record store he passed on his daily commute. One day he pulled the album from the bins and asked a clerk if he should buy it — to which the clerk replied, "I'm not quite sure you're ready for this yet."

"That made me want it more," McBride says. "I was familiar with sound of the quartet, the legendary quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums — but when I heard A Love Supreme, I got it. Not because the music was any more challenging than I had heard on records like Live at Birdland or Crescent. You could just tell that this was the quartet at its apex — that they were at a peak, and that coupled with Coltrane's spiritual discovery, music being put to that. It's a gospel album in many ways."

Speaking with NPR's Audie Cornish, McBride invoked the names of two contemporary pianists, Eric Reed and Marcus Roberts, and explained how their work demonstrates a similar connection to gospel and reverence for music history. Hear the full conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.