John Coltrane - Crescent (1964), 5/10

Although it is a bit too smooth for me personally, Crescent stands as a representative recording of Coltrane during his prime in 1964, delivering a just as transcendent set of performances as some of his more praised works. The opening title track is certainly a standout, displaying Coltrane’s strengths in intricate playing while boasting complex structures. His sax playing is as smooth yet spiritual as ever, simultaneously offering a grand quality blended fluidly with an impressive intimacy. Of course as with most Coltrane recordings, the interplay is outstanding, as he was an impressive bandleader onstage and inspired synergy in performance. The intermingling of bass, piano and drums as a foundation for Coltrane’s explorational sax playing at various stages of a track like “Wise One” adds a quality of depth that makes it a standout among other be bop recordings of the time. The progression from the remarkable, broad title track through the personal and longing “Lonnie’s Lament” generate a meaningful narrative that transcends the simpler, more straightforward records of the era. Elvin Jones’ variation in percussion techniques, the prolific McCoy Turner providing stellar performances on piano, Jimmy Garrison’s soulful persuasion on bass, and of course Coltrane’s spiritually inspired performances cutting through the arrangements make for a simply all around enjoyable listening experience. Another great example of Coltrane’s mastery on display as both a performer and leader. Despite all of this, however, it does too little to push things forward and ultimately becomes an unmemorable experience in comparison to his more influential records. Knowing what is to come, and even in comparison to some of his earlier recordings, it simply does not make a lasting enough impression to be one of his best.