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Lincoln Jazz Center with Wynton Marsalis: A Love Supreme

What an eloquent, well-arranged, beautifully performed exercise in futility. Why the need to improve on John Coltrane’s highly personal search for spiritual enlightenment? Trane’s seminal 1964 recording A Love Supreme involved a mere four artists: Coltrane on tenor, plus a responsive rhythm machine that seemed to anticipate his every nuance with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. We’re talking a dozen fewer musicians than the LCJO that recorded this inflated version in 2003. Clearly, the results prove that less can be more, not only in numbers-original version, 33 minutes; Marsalis takes nearly 42-but also in depth of expression.

To the LCJO’s credit, those wild unison rides among its sections in “Pursuance” are electrifying. And to Marsalis’ credit, he retains the mantra based on the title “A Love Supreme” after that haunting four-note motif is shared by virtually every instrument in different tonalities at the end of “Acknowledgement.” If anything, perhaps this CD will inspire some to buy the original album. But please, somebody stop Marsalis before he transcribes the unaccompanied cello suites of Bach for full symphony orchestra!

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