THE MATTSON 2
John Coltrane’s 1965 magnum opus A Love Supreme is one of the most revered and influential recordings in the history of jazz, widely regarded as the iconic saxophonist’s masterpiece. It might seem audacious at the very least to undertake a new recording of such a foundational album, but twin brothers Jared & Jonathan Mattson are nothing if not sonic risk-takers.
With their new release Mattson 2 Play ‘A Love Supreme’ (Spiritual Pajamas), the duo reimagines Coltrane’s avant-garde epic through a 21st-century lens, creating a new interpretation that remains faithful to the questing spirit of the original while pushing the music into bold new territory – which itself is fully in keeping with the composer’s forward-looking vision. The album translates the Coltrane Quartet’s acoustic jazz explorations into a modern language swathed in a haze of analog synths, ecstatic guitars, transcendent grooves and enveloping atmospherics.
“The purpose of our reinterpretation of A Love Supreme was to lean into the spirit of exploration and transformation that’s embodied in jazz.” says Jared Mattson. “We don’t claim to be traditional jazz musicians, for us it’s about creatively adapting the art form, decontextualizing it, and exploring the genre in new ways. Jazz has been confined to such a narrow definition over the years and we want to make sure the genre continues to grow and evolve. It should be a living, breathing thing.”
That mission certainly fits with Coltrane’s own intentions for the piece, which is less a set composition than a framework for spiritual communion through improvisation. The Mattson brothers have a particular advantage when it comes to achieving that level of communication: the unique telepathy that exists between identical twins, an unspoken empathy that they refer to as “twinchronicity.” In A Love Supreme, the Mattsons saw a way to channel that rare connection into expansive new horizons.
The duo undertook an intensive study of the original composition, Coltrane’s notes, and every available recording by the Coltrane Quartet as well as later versions by the likes of John McLaughlin, Branford Marsalis and Alice Coltrane. They used that vocabulary to create their own take, which they honed through invaluable live performances before audiences largely unfamiliar with the original. “It was so incredible to see the way that a rock fans connected with the music,” Jonathan recalls. “There was yelling and crying, people getting really stoked and devouring every note we were playing. Seeing people’s minds getting blown by Coltrane’s music, was an inspiration for us.”
Those visceral reactions attest to the continuing impact of Coltrane’s bold vision. Mattson 2 Play ‘A Love Supreme’ channels that vision with both reverence and inventiveness, creating a vibrant and electrifying new interpretation that will resonate with new generations of open-minded listeners.
Tony Peppers (aka Astronauts, etc., née Anthony Ferraro) lives just outside of time. His best friend’s father told him in the 4th grade that he was really an old man. It makes some sense, then, that he was diagnosed with arthritis at age 10 and dropped out of school at 20 because he really needed to think things over. He still is, but at 27 Tony has some things to say, and he’s saying them on his new album, Living in Symbol.
It’s been a circuitous seven years for the Oakland-based classical pianist turned pop arranger. Between stints on the road with Toro y Moi, he wrote his first LP, Mind Out Wandering. Recorded mostly live to two-inch tape, the album was a conscious departure from the bedroom pop direction of earlier material. Its production was precise and nakedly clean, showcasing the musicianship of his band and earning comparisons to early Bee Gees records and Philly soul.
When Chaz Bear (Toro y Moi) offered to produce his next album, Tony began devising a collection of songs that would capitalize on the intersection of their sensibilities. The world had begun growing rapidly stranger, and he found his reference points shifting toward outsider music, Latin psychedelia, and the haunting orchestral arrangements of David Axelrod.
A new voice was coming out of Tony, taking cues from oracular crooners like Lee Hazlewood and Kevin Ayers and delivering cryptic messages pitched far below the falsetto that had come to characterize his sound. It would seem disjunctive if it wasn’t so natural; you can hear Tony finally stepping into himself as Bear’s production carries the songs onto a bizarre and timeless wavelength. Living in Symbol serves as the surreal coming-of-age diary of one weirdo floating through the ooze of the Information Age.