Sean Khan: Supreme Love – A Journey Through Coltrane

Saxophonist's epic tribute mixes Trane tunes with his own, flavours with electronica, soul, and R&B, and features Jim Mullen and Pete King

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Saxophonist Sean Khan records that his life’s journey has often been rocky, a path full of both mistakes and successes. At one point he almost gave up music due to severe financial hardship. But throughout, Coltrane’s music has been a constant. “So, as I testify, it is no exaggeration to say that Coltrane kept me in the game and at my lowest point was my only nourishment.”

Khan’s adventurous three-part tribute to Coltrane is thus part autobiography, part homage and part encyclopedic, as it presents all of Coltrane’s different styles, from the earlier hard bop and sheets of sound to the spiritual jazz of A Love Supreme and the experimental cosmic music of Interstellar Space. Mixed in with Coltrane’s songs are some of his own compositions, both originals and remixes.

To present this package, Khan brings together the disparate strands of the UK music scene – jazz, dance, electronica, soul, R&B, broken beat and the rest – alongside two musicians he describes as legends of the UK jazz scene: saxophonist Peter King, a personal friend who had not recorded for some 20 years and who died while this record was still unfinished, and guitarist Jim Mullen.

Initially, Khan presents a lighter, more spiritual side of Coltrane, notably on the buoyant and successful Afro Blue and the string-laden and soulful Naima, and forgoes the intensity, although his own complementary Azawala and As We Came Out Of make up for that. His own soprano is sinuous, his alto more straightahead; interestingly, he avoids the tenor sax. Later on, he digs deeper, investigating Giant Steps at an interestingly slow space and powering through Moment’s Notice, the four acoustic quartet pieces with doubling saxophones that constitute the final part of this suite taken strongly as Coltrane intended them.

Throughout, he gets good support from Andy Noble on pianos and Laurie Lowe on drums. Mullen is buried somewhat on Love Supreme and Starchild, but King leaves a big impression, soloing strongly alongside Khan in the concluding quartet.

Overall, this is an adventurous set, perhaps outstaying its welcome across 96 minutes, but Khan’s love and commitment cannot be doubted, and he deserves our full support for that. 

Discography
LP1: Part 1: The Future Present: A Love Supreme; Starchild; Afro Blue (17.42) – Azawala; Emilia’s Pick; Naima (16.48)
LP2: As We Came Out Of; Giant Steps; Moment’s Notice; The Savage Detectives (19.01) – Part 2: The Future Past: Starchild (remix); Azawala (remix) (14.27)
LP3: Part 3: The Past: Equinox; Impressions (13.38) – Cousin Mary; Equinox (alt take); Giant Steps Outro (14.51)

Khan (ss, as, f, v); Peter King (as); Tom White (tb); Andy Noble (p, elp); Kaidi Tatham (elp); Jim Mullen (g); Meg Gates, Angela Hunt (vn); Michael Whittaker (vla); Jackie Philipps (clo); Angelica V Salvi (hp); Dario de Lecce (b); Laurie Lowe (d); Karl Vanden Bosshe (pc); Heidi Vogel (v). 2020.
BBE Music BBE618ALP