John Coltrane



by Chrisjon89 USER (7 Reviews)
December 17th, 2013 | 7 replies

Release Date: 1964 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A unique recording for Coltrane before a stylistic shift.

Crescent holds the distinction of being the final recording before a sizable shift in approach to composing for Coltrane. Slightly under-appreciated and completely overshadowed by the notoriety of the album to immediately follow, but still well acclaimed in its own right, the album holds some of his finest ballads in Lonnie’s Lament and Wise One - beautifully performed originals, particularly the former. They’re also notable for being some of his final ballads before he radically changed his approach to writing and playing them, as evidenced on the fascinating, more free-form styles of songs such as Psalm and Dearly Beloved from later albums. Structurally, the songs here are far more typical of a post-bop composition than what would follow. So they make for interesting listening even as a means of comparison.

The line-up was well and truly settled by this point and the interplay is faultless – McCoy Tyner’s piano work is a highlight, particularly on the ballads with Coltrane’s spare, spaced melodies giving him plenty of time and room to shine. His playing contrasts with the aggressive style he's known for but is perfect for this setting. Elvin Jones is given free rein on The Drum Thing – at that point pretty much an oddity in Coltrane’s catalogue, which somewhat foreshadows a later record he did with Rashied Ali consisting purely of drums and saxophone. The piano sitting out creates an odd, empty, anxious vibe and fittingly this is the most obviously intense cut courtesy of Jones’ drum solo.

Elsewhere, the dark tone is maintained with the title track, which would be expanded upon when played live. The record doesn’t follow the song suite approach he favours on other milestone albums. There lies the biggest point of contention - the record’s flow. Bessie’s Blues is a brief, enjoyable, bright blues song which arrives smack dab in the middle of the album, surrounded by darker, down tempo, moody tracks. The sequencing is really the only sore point and it’s difficult to see where it could’ve fit in any case.

Crescent lacks the explosive energy of so much of his other celebrated work, but that’s simply a way to distinguish it from those records – not a stick to beat it with. It has a mood all of its own – calming and uneasy all at once. It’s one of Coltrane’s more accessible recordings from this period, a step below his best work but not drastically, a great night-time listen, and one of the most beautiful from a vast, varied, fascinating body of work.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2013


Even though I'm not a huge jazz fan, I think I'll check this one.

Great review too man, pos.

Digging: John Mayall - A Hard Road

December 17th 2013



December 17th 2013


Sweet rev,pos'd
good album

December 17th 2013


rules, have a pos

December 18th 2013


Good review, man. POS'd.

This is a good one. I like the mellower vibe. To be honest, a lot of Coltrane's stuff gets far too complicated for me to really get into around this time. Nothing against his free and avant stuff, because there's a few tracks that I really enjoy, but I much prefer his bop/traditionally structured stuff.

December 19th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i'm mostly the same man - the major exception being Meditations, which is absolutely amazing to me now.

December 21st 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Good review man, this album is cool, I'm listening to it right now

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