Everlasting A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme, John Coltrane’s signature album, was recorded in one session with his quartet on December 9, 1964 at the Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and released by Impulse! Records in February of the following year.

The intricate piece flourished from a four-note seed of a relatively simple idea based on the words “a love supreme”, that allowed the musicians—tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison—to subtly and carefully entwine it into a 33-minute long four-part suite.

The four movements “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance” and “Psalms” symbolize the stepping-stones of Coltrane’s spiritual quest and struggle for purity while overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, which resulted in being fired from Miles Davis’ group. As a true jazz alchemist, Coltraine transformed suffering into a hymn, announcing a major thematic trend in his later works.

poem love supreme

In the manuscript, Coltrane writes that the A Love Supreme motif should be “played in all keys together.” In “Acknowledgement,” he indeed repeats the basic theme in all keys culminating with famous chanting of the theme at the end of the movement. Lewis Porter, the author of John Coltrane: His Life and Music (1999) says: “To me, he’s giving you a message here. Now he’s saying it’s everywhere. It’s in all 12 keys. Anywhere you look, you’re going to find this “Love Supreme”.”

Coltrane was entirely involved in every aspect of A Love Supreme: recording the chant, writing the liner notes and composing a devotional poem to accompany the crowning movement “Psalms” where he performs what he calls a “musical recitation of prayer”, “playing” the words on the saxophone instead of speaking them. Some scholars have considered this performance an homage to the sermons of African American preachers.

Even though there are no recorded interviews of him speaking about the concept behind his masterpiece, this exalting piece of music held an evident personal significance for the ingenious saxophonist. In fact, Coltrane gave very few verbal directions even to his band mates. Tyner remembers the unusual, almost magical atmosphere surrounding the session and calls the album a culmination and natural extension of chemistry honed through years of playing together live.

Powerful and vulnerable at the same time, A Love Supreme exudes with the attuned emotional effusions of each member of Coltrane’s quartet, bringing together the hard bop sensibilities of his early career, Miles Davis-inspired modal influences and the free jazz style he later adopted.

The album’s influence has been extensive from John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana guitar version of “Acknowledgement” to vocal versions by Will Downing, José James and Kurt Elling. The suite also forms four tracks on the Branford Marsalis Quartet album titled Footsteps of Our Fathers. Wynton Marsalis followed his brother’s footsteps and recorded the suite in 2003 with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

By December 1965 Coltrane’s monumental achievement was named Downbeat magazine’s Album of the Year, nominated for two Grammy Awards and listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Quite popular for a jazz album, selling about 500,000 copies by 1970, it still remains a doorway to Coltrane’s music to many people who wouldn’t consider themselves jazz fans.



As further testimony to the recording’s importance, the manuscript for the album is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution along with 25 rare and never before displayed photographs from the A Love Supreme recording session and one of Coltrane’s three principal saxophones that his son Ravi generously donated in March 2014.

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hang-ups…I want to speak to their souls.” ― John Coltrane

Fun Fact: Coltrane’s home in Dix Hills, Long Island, has been considered as the site of inspiration for A Love Supreme. Now, Coltrane’s son Ravi, Carlos Santana and others want to turn this house into a museum and learning center. They are trying to raise the funds to make this dream a reality.


Jazz Appreciation Month: Maria Schneider

Born in 1960 in Windom, Minnesota, Maria Schneider studied music theory and composition at the University of Minnesota. She went on to earn a Master of Music from Eastman School of Music in Jazz Writing and Contemporary Media. After graduating from Eastman she worked for Gil Evans as his copyist and assistant. They worked together with on music for Sting and the score for the film The Color of Money, starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. She later studied privately with Bob Brookmeyer.

In 1989 she formed a jazz ensemble with Jon Fedchock, and in 1993 went on to form her own group, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. Her group performed weekly at Visiones in New York City and she released her first record as a band leader in 1994 titled Evanesence.

Maria Schnieder is one of few artists who have won Grammy Awards in both jazz and classical. Her most recent album with Dawn Upshaw, Winter Morning Walks, won three Grammys: Best Contemporary Classical Composition (‘Winter Morning Walks’), Best Classical Vocal Performance (Dawn Upshaw), and Best Engineered Recording/Classical (David Frost, Brian Losch, Tim Martyn).

Her work with her jazz orchestra has brought her and the ensemble ten Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards. The album Concert in the Garden was the first award-winning album produced by ArtistShare and was the first album to win a Grammy with Internet-only sales.

Maria Schneider will be here at Berklee this week as part of The State of Jazz Composition Symposium, giving a workshop and concert.  You can click here for tickets and more information about The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra’s performance at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday, April 26.

Check out her interview to see her advice to young composers and click here to watch the full interview.


Elegant, Experimental and Undeniably Daring – Ladies who rock today



The King– a fresh, jazzy, soulful, synthy music trio, whose breakthrough to the music scene has been nothing less than a phenomenon and embracement of artistic independence.

Paris and Amber Strother are twin sisters who grew up in Minneapolis, currently residing in Los Angeles. Paris started playing piano at the age of 2 and Amber, on the other hand, has only been singing publicly for a couple of years. Anita Bias, a singer-songwriter from Compton, briefly met Paris at a recital while they were both studying at Berklee College of Music. Later in 2008, the force of serendipity reconnected them at a jam session in L.A.

The newly formed trio perfectly “clicked” within their common vision and began building their own musical kingdom, creating the three-song EP, which was recorded in twins’ bedroom and produced by Paris, who also managed to make a DIY stop-animation video for their first single The Story.

On a life-changing night in the early March of 2011, King released their EP titled The Story. What followed after that was a virus-like wave of tweets that was spreading across cyberspace, from Phonte, Estelle, Questlove, Erykah Badu to Prince who invited the trio to open for him on one of his Welcome 2 America Tour dates in front of 17,000 people.

Soon to follow collaborations included The Foreign Exchange’s All the Kisses and  Robert Glasper’s Black Radio Album feature Move Love . Their first LP is currently in the making, as the crowd is still eagerly awaiting its arrival.

With no industry machine or talent show behind them, the achievement of these “anti-Dreamgirls” seems to be a perfect blend of talent, hard work, strong commitment, wholehearted involvement in their music, unique sound, lucky star alignment and “little” help of the social media.

acs trio

Emerging out of Carrington’s Grammy winning The Mosaic Project, the multi-generational supergroup ACS, is a stupefying fusion of three of jazz’s brightest stars, each crowned with daunting technique and a questing spirit of improvisation.

Geri Allen is internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and active music educator who fulfills the role of musical matriarch of this expressionistic collective. Since 1982 she has recorded, performed or collaborated with Ravi Coltrane, Dianne Reeves, Bill Cosby, Ron Carter, Ornette Coleman and Paul Motian. Her album Flying Toward the Sound appeared on the Best of 2010 lists for NPR, Downbeat, All About Jazz, and the Village Voice’s Jazz Critics’ Poll.

Terri Lyne Carrington is a Grammy-award winning drummer, composer, producer, educator and entrepreneur.  Developing a reputation of a drum prodigy, she was jamming with Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry at the age of 10, a   year before receiving the full scholarship at Berklee College of Music. Growing and developing musically next to Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, she’s been at the top of the music industry for more than 25 years, collaborating with the luminaries of the jazz scene.  Her Mosaic Project brought together different musical shapes and colors of some of the world’s most celebrated female instrumentalists and vocalists and inspired the creation of this transcending trio.

Esperanza Spalding captured wider audience’s attention upon being the first jazz musician ever to win the Best New Artist Grammy award, leaving Justin Bieber’s fans in absolute shock.  And ever since she earned two more. She got hooked on music after watching Yo-Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood  at the age of 4. She became the youngest bass player at Portland State University when she was 16 and later was awarded a full scholarship at Berklee , where she subsequently began performing to larger audiences and eventually teaching. Today, as a gallant composer, extremely melodic bassist, eclectic, playful vocalist and young icon of contemporary jazz scene, she continues her evolution of stretching the conventional structures of jazz into new style zones with her ingenious works like Chamber Music Society and Radio Music Society.




Black History Month: “Ain’t Nobody” like Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens in 1953 in Chicago, Illinois.  She is the eldest of five children.  Two of whom, Yvonne Stevens (aka Taka Boom) and Mark Stevens of Aurra, became successful musicians as well.  At age 11 she and her sister formed at group call The Crystalettes

In the 1960s she joined the Black Panther Party and worked at the organizations breakfast program for children.  It was at this time that she adopted an African name given to her during a naming ceremony at the Afro-Arts Theatre, Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi.  In 1969 she left the Black Panthers and dropped out of High School and began performing around Chicago with her then boyfriend and soon to be husband, Hassan Khan, in the group Lyfe.

In 1972 she joined Rufus and the group later signed with ABC records.  In 1973 she married Hassan Khan and adopted the stage name Chaka Khan.  Rufus did not take off until Stevie Wonder wrote for them “Tell Me Something Good” that reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974 and sold over one million copies.

Throughout the 1970s Rufus continued their success releasing eight albums that went platinum.  In 1978 Chaka Khan started her solo career with the release of Chaka that went on to be a hit record with the song “I’m Every Woman,” which was written for her by Ashford & Simpson and also covered by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.

With the success of her solo recording she still had two records to record on her contract with Rufus and recorded Camouflage and Stompin’ at the Savoy – Live.  The latter featured “Ain’t Nobody” and won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.  The song remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 26 weeks.

In 1984 she released her sixth solo record I Feel for You, with the title track being the first single that was originally written and recorded by Prince.  Chaka Khan’s is a distinctive version because of the introductory rap by Grandmaster Melle Mel and the harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder.

Another popular song that helped I Feel for You go platinum was “Through the Fire,” which was later sampled by Kanye West in “Through the Wire.”

Chaka Khan married her second husband in 1976, Richard Holland, and had two children.  Her daughter, Milini, born in 1973 of her first husband Hassan Khan, and Damien Holland from her second husband.

In 1999 she formed the Chaka Khan Foundation that “educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.”  The program also supports children and families with autism.  “We envision that through our mission we will give children who are at risk, either through poverty or through health issues like autism, the ability to achieve their dreams and give back to the community.”

In 2004, Chaka Khan was honored by Berklee College of Music and received an Honorary Doctorate.  It was presented by current Berklee College of Music President, Roger H. Brown, during his inauguration to the college.  She is pictured here with Arif Mardin a long time collaborator, former Berklee College of Music professor, and Honorary Doctorate recipient.

Khan and Mardin won a Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices for their work “Be Bop Medley.”

Over her three decade career Chaka Khan has released twenty-two albums, won ten Grammys, has seven RIAA certified gold singles, ten RIAA certified gold and platinum albums, and in 2011 was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame with Rufus and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Black History Month: The Clark Sisters

The Clark Sisters – left to right – Dorinda Clark-Cole, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark-Terrell, Jackie Clark Chisholm, and Karen Clark Sheard

The Clark Sisters, from Detroit are a gospel group consisting of Jackie Clark Chisholm, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark-Terrell, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard and are the daughters of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Denise Clark Bradford, another sister no longer performs with the group.  They all began singing early in life and by the 1960s they were performing as a group in church.  In 1974 they signed with Sound of Gospel Records, but it wasn’t until the 1980s with the release of Is My Living In Vain, their first live recording that stayed at the number one spot for the year on the Billboard Gospel chart, that they became more known.

In 1982 The Clark Sisters’ album Sincerely received a Grammy nomination and in 1983 they performed at the Grammy Awards.  Again in 1986 and 1988 they were nominated for a Grammys for their albums Heart & Soul and Conqueror , respectively, without a win.  It wasn’t until wasn’t until 2008 when they reunited after establishing their solo careers that they received their first Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Gospel Album, Live – One Last Time, and best Gospel Performance for “Blessed and Highly Favored.”  Karen Clark Sheard won Best Gospel Song for her work as a songwriter on “Bless and Highly Favored.”

While in Detroit visiting our member, COMPÁS, we had the honor of meeting Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole and Jackie Clark Chisholm to discuss and learn more about their education initiatives and Dorinda Clark-Cole’s Singers & Musicians Arts Conference.  Every year they hold the conference in Detroit, but last year was the first year they held it in Toledo, OH and have regional conferences in Los Angeles, CA and Birmingham, AL.  As part of the conference there is a free admission education day for youth with seminars for instrumental, vocal, dance, and musical theatre.  Additionally  there are workshops on music business, a youth choir, and a showcase among other activities to help students further themselves in the arts.

The Clark Sisters have recorded more the 12 records in all and this week, on Thursday February, 6 they will be performing at the Berklee Performance Center.  In addition to performing with Berklee students they will be interviewed by Gospel Today Magazine founder Teresa Hairston.  You can get tickets by clicking here.

Playlist: Berklee Alumni Garner 36 Grammy Nominations

For the 56th Grammy Awards the National Academy of Recording Arts Sciences nominated 31 Berklee College of Music Alumni in  19 categories for a total of 36 nominations.   For the third year in a row, Berklee Alumni are nominated in the top three categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.

Imagine Dragons

Before the Grammys are broadcast live on Sunday, January 26, on CBS at 8:00 p.m. EST, be sure to listen to all the Berklee Alumni who are nominated on our Spotify Playlist, and for more information on Berklee and the nominations please click here.

[spotify spotify:user:berkleecmn:playlist:1CFa4l3wI9qPbxO5XJfG2n]

Record of the Year

  • “Radioactive,” artist: Imagine Dragons – Berklee nominees: Imagine Dragons members, guitarist Wayne Sermon ‘08, drummer Daniel Platzman ‘09, bassist Ben McKee ‘09Josh Mosser ‘05, engineer/mixer
  • “Locked out of Heaven,” artist: Bruno Mars – Berklee nominees: Jeff Bhasker ’99, co-producer; Josh Blair ’99, engineer/mixer
  • “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell – Berklee nominees: Tony Maserati ’86, engineer/mixer

Album of the Year

  • Red, artist: Taylor Swift – Berklee nominees: Jeff Bhasker ’99, co-producer; Pawel Sek ’00, engineer/mixer
  • Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar – Berklee nominees: Anna Wise ’10, featured artist; Dawaun Parker ’05, co-producer

Song of the Year

  • “Just Give Me a Reason,” artist: Pink featuring Nate Ruess – Berklee nominees: Jeff Bhasker ’99, co-songwriter.

Best Pop Instrumental Album

  • Hacienda – artist: Jeff Lorber Fusion – Berklee nominees: Jeff Lorber ’71
  • Summer Horns, artist: Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair, and Richard Elliot – Berklee nominees: Mindi Abair ’91

Best Rock Performance

  • “Radioactive,” artist: Imagine Dragons – Berklee nominees: Imagine Dragons members, guitarist Wayne Sermon ’08, drummer Daniel Platzman ’09, bassist Ben McKee ’09

Best Metal Performance

  • “The Enemy Inside,” artist: Dream Theater – Berklee nominees: Dream Theater members, guitarist John Petrucci ’86, John Myung ’86
  • “In Due Time,” artist: Killswitch Engage – Berklee nominees: Killswitch Engage member Adam Dutkiewicz ’99

Best R&B Performance

  • “Something,” artist: Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway – Berklee nominees: Lalah Hathaway ’94

Best R&B Song

  • “Love and War,” artist: Tamar Braxton – Berklee nominees: Makeba Riddick ’99, co-songwriter

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

  • “Stadium Jazz,” artist: Donny McCaslin – Berklee nominees: Donny McCaslin ’88, soloist

Best Jazz Vocal Album

  • After Blue, artist: Tierney Sutton – Berklee nominees: Tierney Sutton ’87

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

  • Guided Tour, artist: The New Gary Burton Quartet – Berklee nominees: The New Gary Burton Quartet members, vibraphonist Gary Burton ’62, guitarist Julian Lage ’08, and drummer Antonio Sanchez ’97
  • Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue, Terri Lyne Carrington – Berklee nominees: Terri Lyne Carrington ’83

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

  • Wild Beauty, artist: Brussels Jazz Orchestra feat. Joe Lovano – Berklee nominee: Joe Lovano ’72

Best Latin Pop Album

  • 12 Historias, artist: Tommy Torres – Berklee nominee: Tommy Torres ’94

Best Bluegrass Album

  • This World Oft Can Be, artist: Della Mae – Berklee nominee: Della Mae member Courtney Hartman ’12

Best Musical Theater Album

  • Kinky Boots, artist: Original Broadway Cast – Berklee nominee: Stephen Oremus ’92, co-producer

Best Instrumental Arrangement

  • Wild Beauty, artist: Brussels Jazz Orchestra featuring Joe Lovano – Berklee nominee: Gil Goldstein ’70, arranger

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)

  • Swing Low, artist: Bobby McFerrin and Esperanza Spalding – Berklee nominee: Gil Goldstein ’70, arranger

Best Recording Package

  • Automatic Music Can Be Fun, artist: Geneseo – Berklee nominee: Mike Brown ’99, art director

Best Engineered Album, non-classical

  • …Like Clockwork, artist: Queens of the Stone Age – Berklee nominee: Gavin Lurssen ’91, mastering engineer