Few arrangers have attempted to score John Coltrane's landmark suite A Love Supreme for good reason: it is very difficult to stand up to the emotional impact of the composer's original recording. But Wynton Marsalis ambitiously dove into scoring it for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for this Palmetto CD. The results are rather uneven. In spite of the best efforts of the participating musicians, the solos often prove to be a distraction, leaning more toward humor than sticking to Coltrane's message. The most ridiculous section occurs in the opening movement, "Acknowledgement," when the baton is passed from one player to the next as they take turns playing the brief cadence of the well-known A Love Supreme vamp, which quickly grows tedious. "Resolution" works somewhat better, though there are sections which sound as if more rehearsal time was needed. Drummer Herlin Riley makes a strong effort with the transitional solo into "Pursuance," but his work pales next to that of Elvin Jones on the original album. "Psalm" comes the closest to achieving what Coltrane might have envisioned had he chosen to record his suite with an orchestra. One noticeable improvement is the omission of the vocal chant included by Coltrane. In any case, die-hard fans of Marsalis will want to pick up this CD, while others should consider themselves forewarned of the potential for disappointment.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden