Mattson 2, "Pursuance" (Spiritual Pajamas)
The chutzpah! Identical LA-based twins Jared and Jonathan Mattson have covered John Coltrane's A Love Supreme—the 1965 album that's considered one of jazz's immutable masterpieces. They join a long list of artists who've taken stabs at the innovative, spiritual classic, including Alice Coltrane, Elvin Jones, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, Ballistic Brothers, Bobby Matos Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, the Twilight Singers, and, uh, Gumball. What makes Mattson 2 stand out is their sheer audacity of tackling the whole blessed LP—and their belief that a couple of youngish white guys can do justice to it.
Certainly, jazz purists will wrinkle their noses at Mattson 2's rendition of A Love Supreme, but then jazz purists are notorious grumps who still think Miles Davis "sold out" with On the Corner, so fug 'em. Jonathan Mattson (drums, percussion, vocals) and Jared (electric guitar, loops, electric bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, vocals) most closely follow in the giant steps of Mahavishnu McLaughlin and Devadip Santana with their electrified freakouts of these well-known compositions. Mattson 2 can't match those two deities' firepower and virtuosity (very few can), but they give a valiant attempt at their sort of transcendent re-imagining of Coltrane's magnum opus.
"Pursuance" finds the duo to revving up the already swift tempo and elaborating tastefully on the inspirational melody, with Jared finessing thrilling, precise curlicues on guitar and nailing Jimmy Garrison's pensive, intricate bass solo, and Jonathan doing his best Elvin impression. This version lacks McCoy Tyner's dynamite piano and Coltrane's molten sax, of course, but Mattson 2 take "Pursuance" to some interesting places, using the tools at their disposal.
Jonathan explains that their motivation for reinterpreting A Love Supreme "was to lean into the spirit of exploration and transformation that’s embodied in jazz. 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.” The Mattsons say that they relied on their “twinchronicity” to help them achieve this goal.
You can catch the brothers performing tonight at Barboza with Astronauts, Etc.