Duke Ellington once said that there were only two types of music: good and bad. A very good friend of mine once altered this sentiment by saying that the only types of music were good and better. I vote for the latter summation. In the past several years of music writing, the vast majority of jazz recordings I've encountered have been very good. And these are the majority of releases. When a truly exceptional recording crosses my laser, it is usually apparent from the first notes. Interestingly enough, these things usually come from older musicians. (My bias or their talent? Both, most likely.) Outstanding recent recordings have included Herbie Hancock’s Directions in Music Live at Massey Hall and Wayne Shorter’s Footprints Live!
Add to this McCoy Tyner’s new release, Land of Giants. Joined by Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Charnett Moffett on bass, and Eric Harland on drums, Tyner expands the jazz vernacular by adding seven new original compositionsplus the Tyneresque "If I Were A Bell" and "In A Mellowtone." What makes this recording special is the perfect empathy between Tyner and Hutcherson, who continually pick up where the other has left off, their respective ringing tones and sustains blending into one another. Tyner’s compositional style, particularly on the opener, "Serra Do Mar," resembles early Brubeck, weaving a swinging 4/4 feel throughout a more complex time. Charnett Moffett nails this trend down throughout the recording.
Land of Giants is indeed what its title suggests. It finds all the principals at the top of their game. McCoy Tyner has consistently been a provocative musician, beforeand, fortunately, after John Coltrane. This straight-ahead recording shines bright with the holy trinity of jazz—Swing, Swing, Swing.