The Music of John Coltrane Lives On
“Love” First Mediations, John Coltrane (1965)
“The Universe Wakes Up” Trust in the Lifeforce of the Universe, Shabaka Hutchings, The Comet is Coming (2019)
The music of John Coltrane at the peak of his power lives on in the music of the London-based band The Comet is Coming. Incorporating elements of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic jazz, the band’s debut EP Prophecy was released on a limited edition in 2015. The full-length album Channel the Spirits followed in 2016. The album was nominated for the 2016 Mercury Prize. In 2018, the band signed with Coltrane’s old label, Impulse! The band’s second full-length album Turst in the Lifeforce of the Universe was released in 2019.
Listen to the piece above by John Coltrane titled “Love” from his First Meditations album recorded in September of 1965. It’s a quartet version of a suite Coltrane would record as his Meditations album two months later with the additions of Pharoah Sanders as a second tenor saxophone and with Rashied Ali on drums. Along with Sun Ship, recorded a week earlier, First Meditations represents the final recordings of Coltrane’s classic quartet featuring bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner. The “Meditations” suite on this album consists of five movements: Love, Compassion, Joy, Consequences and Serenity. The suite is close to the suite concept of the legendary Coltrane album recorded just nine months earlier, A Love Supreme.
John Coltrane in 1965
Compare Coltrane’s “Love” to the composition “The Universe Wakes Up” by Shabaka Hutchings from the Comet is Coming. The piece is off the Trust in the Lifeforce of the Universe album of 2019. The album received critical acclaim, with The Quietus noting the importance of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane on their sound while acknowledging that “rather than being weighed down by those legacies, the Comet Is Coming have turned them into fuel, accelerating their sound, and with it, the sound of jazz today.” The sound of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane are certainly present in the album. But mostly, it is the sound of John Coltrane.
Shabaka Hutchins in 2019
The eclectic band takes its name from a reference to old sci-fi movies of the 50s. Band members in the trio use the pseudonyms King Shabaka, Danalogue and Betamax. Their real names are saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, keyboardist Dan Leavers and drummer Max Hallett.
The band’s genesis is interesting. In an interview with M Magazine, drummer Max Hallett (Betamax) speaks of the bands origin and how Shabaka Hutchings came to join them. “Me and Danalogue were playing as a psychedelic electro synth and live drums duo called Soccer96. We began to notice a tall shadowy figure present at some of our gigs. At some point he appeared at the side of the stage with his sax in hand. When he got up on stage to play with us it created an explosive shockwave of energy that stunned us all. A couple of weeks later King Shabaka rang me up and said ‘hey let’s make a record’ so we booked three days in Total Refreshment Centre studios. It all came together at an incredible speed. We played and recorded to 1/4 tape with no pre-written material. By the end of three days we had recorded hours of music.”
The Comet is Coming
The music of John Coltrane lives on in th music of the London-based trio.
It is a much-needed music for these troubled times.