Monterey Notebook 2006, Part 2: Saturday
Kicking up the tempo for "Passion Dance," a gem from his 1960s book, Tyner again gives Hutcherson the first word. The mallet man spins out a remarkable string of lengthy, twisting runs, occasionally falling into a kind of dialogue with Tyner's cresting chords. Hargrove juxtaposes his fat trumpet tone and short, lyrical phrases with bassist Charnett Moffett's breakneck walking patterns and Eric Kamau Gravatt's precision spang-a-lang drumming. Then Tyner is off and running with another st of huge, crashing chords and overlapping harmonic phrases. Gravatt's sticks fly madly around his kit, cleverly referencing the tune's catchy melody.
Moffett pulls off the biggest surprise of the evening by running his acoustic bass through an effects box. Alternately bowing and plucking with abandon, he simulates electric violin, Hendrixian guitar fire and even a harp in the space of perhaps two minutes. Tyner has a surprise or two up his own sleeve, as he breaks the set's pattern with some straight-up blues piano on the next selection. Hutcherson and Hargrove respond in kind, and the relative simplicity of the tune lays the sheer instrumental mastery of this band bare. Hargrove is delightful, shouting his message to the skies as midnight pproaches.
The night is not over when Tyner leaves the stage. I can hear the tightly coiled improvisation of Hiromi's trio still tearing up the Coffee House, which is now merely full instead of bursting with listeners. Over in Dizzy's Den, the Yellowjackets have just started their night-owl set. But after a full day of nonstop movement, it's time to crawl into the night and back to my motel. In just twelve hours, I'm going to do it all over again.
Janna L. Gadden