McCoy Tyner: Fly With The Wind (2009)
McCoy Tyner may be best-known for his legendary tenure with John Coltrane's quartet in the early '60s, as well as his recordings as a leader for Blue Note, but budding fans should investigate his formidable output from the subsequent decade.
In 1972, Tyner defected to Orrin Keepnews' Milestone label, where he remained through the early '80s. While at Milestone the pianist recorded no less than 20 albums. Recently released as part of the Keepnews Collection is the 1976 date Fly With The Wind, featuring the rhythm section of Ron Carter (bass) and Billy Cobham (drums), as well as flutist Hubert Laws and harpist Linda Wood.
The highlight of the ensemble, however, and the building block that makes this record so unique is the full string section, which allowed Tyner to stretch out as a composer and arranger. Those looking for a straight-ahead, romantic jazz-plus-strings album should check out Oscar Peterson's In a Sentimental Mood. Tyner's date can definitely be categorized as far out. The thumping title track, along with the lengthy "Salvadore de Samba," create the image of hanging out in the tropical bar aboard a sort of modal Love Boat.
The string arrangements will no doubt sound somewhat dated to some, but they are highly effective on many levels, especially upon repeated listening. Keepnews' liner notes state that the recordings weren't overdubbed via multiple sessions. Instead, he says that the dozen-plus musicians were jammed into one small recording studio for the date. That's as impressive as it is hard to believe when experiencing the sheer scope of the instrumentation on each track.
Along with the aforementioned Tyner-penned numbers, Fly With The Wind contains two more originals from the leader, as well as a highly unconventional reading of the standard "You Stepped Out of a Dream." The only bonuses offered by the reissue are outtakes of two of the Tyner songs: the meditative "Beyond the Sun" and the funky "Rolem."
If you can open your mind to the combination of strings with Tyner's modal sound, Fly With The Wind will no doubt take you on an exciting sonic journey. It's unlike any jazz-plus-strings record you've ever heard and will definitely encourage further investigation of Tyner's bountiful years with the Milestone label.
Track Listing: Fly With The Wind; Salvadore De Samba; Beyond The Sun; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Rolem; Beyond The Sun [Alternate Take]; Rolem [Alternate Take].
Personnel: McCoy Tyner: piano; Hubert Laws: flute; Billy Cobham: drums; Ron Carter: bass; Orchestra conducted by William Fischer.