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McCoy Tyner: Quartet (2007)

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McCoy Tyner: Quartet How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

It seems grossly unfair that the debonair, elegant elder statesman on the cover of Quartet, a document of the concerts McCoy Tyner and his band gave on Dec. 30th-31st, 2006 at Yoshi's in Oakland, would still be trying to live up to the reputation for excellence he established with the John Coltrane Quartet some forty-plus years ago. Perhaps tellingly, three of the seven selections come from The Real McCoy, the first solo album Tyner made for Blue Note in 1965. In fact, the whole program sounds vaguely familiar, modal tunes or blues that have a spiritual, questing component, propelled by the leader's poundingly dense pianistics.

But if there is another tenor man working today better suited to this music than Joe Lovano, they have yet to make themselves known. Lovano's technical proficiency, innate sense of melody and willingness to take the tunes just a little bit outside, establish a tension within Tyner's compositions that results from command and risk in equal measure. Christian McBride's bass soloing can be as rapid and dense as Tyner's piano chords, but he never loses pace or his sense of swing. And drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts doesn't shy away from the Elvin Jones comparisons, as he turns in a bruising, rollicking performance.

In this case, what might have been just another night on the bandstand for a group of top professionals instead finds the quartet completely rising to the occasion and confronting ghosts with their shoulders squared, demonstrating how thrilling and exhilarating jazz can be in the hands of masters.

Track Listing: Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit; Mellow Minor; Sama Layuca; Passion Dance; Search for Peace; Blues on the Corner; For All We Know.

Personnel: McCoy Tyner: piano; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; Christian McBride: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.

Record Label: Half Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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