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  • John Kelman wrote on August 07, 2008 report

    Posted on behalf of Mario Carrington

    McCoy Tyner is an artist for all seasons and an international jazz treasure. Tyner's 48 year body of work is staggering and he continues to break new ground.

    His contribution as a musician barely into his 20's in the seminal 1960's Coltrane quartet was astounding and remains topical with the passage of time. The members of the greatest and most influential jazz quartet of the second half of the 20th century were John Coltrane (sax), Elvin Jones (drums), McCoy Tyner (piano) & Jimmy Garrison (bass). Coltrane had other ensembles during his era of prominence (1958 to 1967) but none surpassed this core group that was a prolific unit for a relatively brief period of time (1961-1965).

    Tyner and Garrison are the remaining members of this super group. There's no better time to acknowledge greatness and celebrate a master than while they're still here to appreciate it. This salute goes out to Tyner.

    There are jazz pianists whose style is singular, instantly recognizable and often imitated but never duplicated. A few notables in this group would include Thelonius Monk, Ahmad Jamal, Art Tatum and Count Basie. Tyner is a charter member of this group. His playing at times serves to remind you that the piano is a percussive instrument. Tyner's early style and choice of material can be described as intense, aggressive, prideful, thunderous and vertiginous. The music envelopes you and demands to be heard; it can be said to be emblematic of the civil rights struggle of the era during which he rose to prominence.

    Upon breaking away from the JCQ, Tyner's music continued in a spiritual vein and was influenced by African sensibilities & instruments, similar to where Coltrane was headed at the time. Albums such as Time for Tyner, featuring a song called “African Village,” Extensions which included “Fulfillment” and Asante with “Message from the Nile” are examples of this period.

    It's an impossible task to list all of the phenomenal music releases created by this inventive jazz icon. The albums listed below are an attempt to get you started in the right direction leading you to his other treasures.

    Your starter kit of recommended releases by this jazz master as a lead should include the following:

    The Real McCoy, Blue Note records, 1967, Tyner, Jones, Ron Carter and Joe Henderson; selection highlights include “Passion Dance,” “Contemplation” and “Search for Peace.”

    Song for My Lady, Milestone records, 1972, Tyner, Sonny Fortune, Charles Tolliver, Michael White, Calvin Hill, Alphonse Mouzon and Mtume; selection highlights include “Native Song,” “The Night has a Thousand Eyes” and “Song for My Lady.”

    Trident, Milestone records, 1975, Tyner, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter; selection highlights include “Celestial Chant,” “Once I Loved,” “Land of the Lonely,” “Impressions” and “Ruby, My Dear.”

    Fly with the Wind, Milestone records, 1976, Tyner, Billy Cobham and Ron Carter. The album's concept is performed to perfection by Tyner. The trio is supported with a full orchestra and selection highlights include “Fly with the Wind,” “Salvatore de Samba” and “You stepped out of a Dream.”

    Super Trios, Milestone records, 1977, Tyner, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. This album is quintessential Tyner. Selection highlights include “Wave,” “The Greeting,” “Moments Notice,” “Four by Five,” Stella by Starlight,” “Lush Life” and “Prelude to a Kiss.”

    Live at the Great American Music Hall—The Greeting, Milestone records, 1978, Tyner, George Adams, Joe Ford, Charles Fambrough, Woody Theus and Guillermo Franco; selection highlights include “Naima,” “The Greeting” and “Fly with the Wind.” Live at the Musicians Exchange Café—Hip Toe, Universe records, 1987, Tyner, Avery Sharpe and Louis Hayes; selection highlights include “Senor Carlos,” “You taught my heart to Sing,” “Port au Blues,” “Island Birdie” and “Hip Toe.”

    Remembering John, Enja records, 1991, Tyner, Sharpe and Hayes; selection highlights include “India,” “Giant Steps,” “Up against the Wall,” “Pursuance” and “The Wise One.”

    Live at Sweet Basil—Solar, Compose records, 1993, Tyner, Sharpe and Hayes; selection highlights include “Solar,” “Don't get around much Anymore” and “La Habana Sol.”

    Illuminations, Telarc records, 2004, Tyner, Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride and Lewis Nash; selection highlights include “Illuminations,” “Angelina,” “Soulstice,” “If I should leave you” and “Alone Together.”

    A full kit for Tyner should also include his work with John Coltrane; these choice releases provide a good overview of his talent in that context:

    Ole, Atlantic records, 1961, includes Coltrane, Jones, Tyner, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Art Davis & Reggie Workman

    Live at The Village Vanguard, Impulse records, 1961, includes Coltrane, Jones, Tyner, Garrison, Dolphy and Workman

    Ballads, Impulse records, 1961, Coltrane, Jones, Tyner and Garrison

    Newport '63, Impulse records, Coltrane, Jones, Tyner, Garrison, Workman, Dolphy and Roy Haynes

    John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, Impulse records, 1963, Coltrane, Jones, Tyner, Garrison and Hartman

    A Love Supreme, Impulse records, 1964, Coltrane, Jones, Tyner, Garrison. This album is a jazz masterpiece.

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