Branford Marsalis Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live in Amsterdam

John Coltrane recorded his acknowledged masterwork, A Love Supreme, as a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to God. His artistic vision never burned brighter. In contrast, Branford Marsalis's recording is not based on attaining a mystical union with the Divine but his idolatrous worship of Coltrane. And the result is a well-played but uninspired, loose version of the original. What is more, Marsalis and his cohorts Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Jeff "Tain" Watts bring very little originality to their interpretation. There is an overabundance of derivative licks that one would expect from music students, not veterans. Only Watts seems to catch fire during the 48-minute set at the Bimhuis, slashing with an intensity his band-mates seem unwilling or incapable of mustering. One added feature brings the slavishness of Marsalis's approach into bold relief: a sychophantic interview with Coltrane's wife, Alice, wherein the usually foul-mouthed, opinionated Branford looks like a kid who's been told to mind his manners while visiting grandma. The interview does cover some interesting ground, particularly the fact that Coltrane purportedly used the syllables of his Love Supreme prayer as the basis of the suite's fourth movement. Branford says he didn't dare try to recreate that piece. Funny, because he had the hubris to record the rest of the suite. (Rounder)