John Coltrane influenced not only generations of saxophone players, but guitarists and other musicians as well. “A Guitar Supreme” brings together eight excellent guitarists, including Mike Stern, Greg Howe, Larry Coryell and Robben Ford, to honor his legacy with intense fusion takes on Coltrane’s challenging music.
The eight guitarists, one per tune, leap with delight into the 10 Coltrane originals, and also two covers he made famous. Rather than dwelling musically on the how and why of jazz saxophone’s replacement by rock guitar as the dominant sound in popular music, they show the commonality between an acoustic wind instrument and electric strings. None of the soloists try to copy Coltrane; they translate him into another language.
Free-jazz purists may not like Tom Brecthlein’s rockish beats, Alphonso Johnson’s funky bass or Larry Goldings’ organ backing, but Coltrane’s complexity allows many readings. Those who know the originals will enjoy hearing the way Howe rockets through the tricky chords of “Giant Steps” or how Frank Gambale eases into the lyrical “Naima.” Those who don’t know Coltrane can find no better way into his magnificent oeuvre.
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