John Coltrane Sextet – Acknowledgement (take 6)
A Love Supreme The Complete Masters – Verve Music 2016 B0023911-01
In the end, Coltrane decided to limit the release of A Love Supreme to the material recorded by his “classic quartet” (Garrison/Tyner/Jones). However, Ashley Kahn’s book A Love Supreme (https://www.amazon.com/Love-Supreme-Story-Coltranes-Signature/dp/0142003522) details the December 10 recording session to which Coltrane invited Archie Sheep and Art Davis to sit in with the group on tenor and bass, respectively. By this time, Shepp had already worked with Coltrane on Ascension, and released his Coltrane covers album, “Four For Trane”
Verve/Universal’s recently released “The Complete Masters” includes the original commercial release as well as some mono tapes that belonged to Coltrane himself for review and six attempts by the sextet to play Acknowledgement. It’s interesting to hear the takes in order, because you can hear ideas forming between the group as it progresses. The sixth (and presumably final) take is included here. I’m not sure whether it’s just a strong sentimental attachment to the original, but I don’t believe the record would have been nearly as well received as it was if it had been voiced in sextet. Two interesting quotes about the sextet recording from Khan’s book: First, from Alice Coltrane “Who knows, maybe the man was hearing fifty instruments at a time, or a hundred, like many of the great classical composers. They have to be able to hear it to conduct it. He was slowly going toward that – two basses, two tenors, he was thinking about it in bigger terms”
Second, from recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder “You know, it’s a funny thing about it, I know Archie Sheep was there, but I don’t remember anything that he did [laughs], it just didn’t register with me. No recollection of that session” A bit harsh, but pretty much true.