Saving the youngest member of the group for last, Charnett Moffet’s work on the upright deserves particular comment for two reasons. First, because of its astounding virtuosity, and second, because of the galvanizing effect his presence has on his partners, creating that special dynamic referred to earlier. Moffett employs a wide variety of techniques, covering the bass from end to end, popping strings, using double stops, and bowing. In fact, it seems that Moffett often exhibits in one solo a larger range of technique than most do on an entire album. Moffett possess those three invaluable traits of a bassist: an incredible interpretative ability, faultless timing, and a big, sonorous sound. (In fact, Moffett’s sound is so mellifluous and clear, one wonders what combination of skill and quality of instrument are being employed.) These skills alone would place Moffett in the “monster” category, but what places him on par with such greats as Ray Brown, Peacock, and La Faro, is his desire to (and success in) pushing the limits of himself and his instrument. A seemingly never ending fount of ideas flows from Moffett, both in his ensemble and solo work. His first solo of the evening was so mournfully evocative it took the breath away. Special note should be made of Moffett’s bowing, due not only to the relative rarity of its use in jazz, but also because of Moffett’s daring and innovative use. Simply stated, Moffett not only plays well, he creates, and it is this quality that really pushes the Trio into another realm.
This is not meant to imply that Hutcherson and Tyner are not still innovating, but it is Moffett whose playing stands out as truly searching. Perhaps this is because Hutcherson and Tyner have already established firm musical identities and whereas for them the music is always there, Moffett is still in process, is still building music, drawing it out of himself. The combination of these two processes on stage is what made of that one set a truly incredible night of music. Not only was each piece flawless and moving, I felt I was witnessing that strange aspect of jazz, namely the teacher-student relationship that continues to collide the jazz past with the jazz future, allowing masters to coexist with virtuosi youth, the one helping to shape the other.
Leaving the club, it came to me that the McCoy Tyner Trio had done much more than entertain. Or even overcome the somewhat tawdry aspect of commerce inevitable in the supper-club scene. The McCoy Tyner Trio had done something profound: it had reduced everything outside the music just shared to irrelevance.