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Turtle Island Quartet Takes on 'A Love Supreme'

For more than 20 years, the Turtle Island Quartet has crossed genre boundaries in jazz and classical music.
For more than 20 years, the Turtle Island Quartet has crossed genre boundaries in jazz and classical music.

Turtle Island Quartet has just released A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane, an ambitious take on the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and others. The centerpiece of the album is a string quartet reading of John Coltrane's 32-minute suite, A Love Supreme.

Violinist David Balakrishnan and cellist Mark Summer talk to Robert Siegel in Studio 3A about their transformation of the jazz masterpiece. Balakrishnan observes that they must face the transition from "being a classical musician playing at jazz to playing with some authenticity."

Often cited as one of the most important albums ever made, the original A Love Supreme was recorded at the end of 1964 with saxophonist John Coltrane's classic quartet: drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner and bassist Jimmy Garrison. The four-part suite was the culmination of his philosophical and technical innovations. The album also provided a glimpse into the challenging jazz music that Coltrane would create in his remaining years.

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