BLACK VOICES
12/09/2014 02:55 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2014

Cornel West Reflects On The 'Artistic Genius' Of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme'

Fifty years ago, John Coltrane’s quartet entered the Van Gelder studio and created what many call his greatest work of all time. The four-part suite, which sold 500,000 copies, paid homage to black spirituality and marked a critical juncture in the artist’s struggle with substance abuse. Author Cornel West, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Archie Shepp, poet Stanley Crouch and many more joined HuffPost Live to discuss "A Love Supreme" and how Coltrane hit the undeniable crescendo of his career.

West discussed how Coltrane represented a true "moment" in the black tradition and imagined how the composer would respond to the progression of that tradition today. While West said Coltrane would "turn over in his gave" at the popularity of current "mediocre" music, there one thing the author is sure he would appreciate.

"If you really look at the deep expressions of humanity that [are] being expressed in [the album], Coltrane is a culminating moment," West said. "He smiles when he looks at Ferguson from the grave. He'd say, 'Aw, the young people are awakening.' That's what he says on the album: 'This is an expression of my spiritual awakening.'"

Check out the HuffPost Live conversation about Coltrane's classic album "A Love Supreme" above.

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