LOVE SUPREME COLLECTIVE
Frank Catalano – Tenor/soprano saxophone
Jimmy Chamberlin – Drums
Percy Jones – Bass
Adam Benjamin – Keys (Tracks 1 and 3)
Chris Poland – Guitar (Track 4)
In the liner notes for Love Supreme Collective, saxophonist Frank Catalano describes his arduous recovery from a devastating car crash. As is the case with most professional musicians, Catalano channels his creativity and musical vision through his body, the go between for breathing musical life into an inanimate object. Catalano goes on further to describe how serious injuries to his neck, back, wrist, shoulders, and fingers almost permanently derailed his music career. Catalano cites John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” as a source of musical and spiritual inspiration, paving way for this recent recording.
Fortunately for the listener, Catalano does not stumble into the pitfall of trying to recreate the fleeting magic of an iconic recording. One of the major obstacles of such an approach is that the listener has a difficult time separating the unique spontaneity of the original from the newer cover, especially if the recent version covers an album or suite in its entirety.
In Catalano’s case, he avoids this problem by using the basic skeleton of Coltrane’s original suite while actually reproducing very little of the original musical content. In fact, Catalano continues his history of straddling many different musical genres by teaming up with four major figures in the jazz fusion, rock, alternative, and metal scenes, thus deftly personalizing the record and avoiding Coltrane comparison even more. Catalano describes drummer Jimmy Chamberlin—most well known for his stint with the hugely successful alternative band Smashing Pumpkins—as a co-producer of this successful project. On this project Chamberlin plays with considerable virtuosity (a quality that will be very familiar to Smashing Pumpkins fans) and equally considerable jazz-fusion nuance (a talent less well-known to Pumpkins fans such as myself). The project also features the significant talents of bassist Percy Jones, keyboardist Adam Benjamin, and guitarist Chris Poland.
Percy Jones, best known for his work with Brand X and Brian Eno, ramps up the intensity of every track with his zigzagging lines, particularly on “Acknowledgement of Truth.” Benjamin is probably the sideman most traditionally recognized by the jazz scene, known for his work with Dave Douglas. On Love Supreme Collective, he is a terrific addition on two tracks, playing an atmospheric solo that makes expert use of synth effects on “Acknowledgement.” Chris Poland, famous for his guitar work with, wait for it…Megadeth is also an inspired addition, providing particularly intense soundscapes on “Pursuance and Persistence.” Furthermore, Chamberlin is an outstanding jazz-fusion drummer and the troublemaker in me can only hope that one of these tracks will be used for a drummer blindfold test at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, Catalano shows no signs of fatigue from his injuries. He plays with his characteristic ferocity, particularly on “Pursuance and Persistence,” and demonstrates an appealing delicate soprano tone on “Psalm for John.” Interestingly, his tenor tone sounds a bit darker than on prior recordings, at times making him sound like the great Coltrane disciple, Pharoah Sanders. The album, itself, is a successful personal statement, far removed from being a simple Coltrane “cover.” In fact, the dense rock-influenced intensity brings a group like the Mahavishnu Orchestra more readily to my mind. It’s an excellent and personal jazz-fusion outing.
By: Daniel Healy