Perhaps Jazz Roots
can be dubbed McCoy Tyner's "thank you" album as the great pianist pays homage to those masters of the keyboard, both those who preceded him and his contemporaries, like Fats Waller, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner and Earl "Fatha" Hines. Tyner also recognizes individuals who composed the great music which allowed accomplished artists like himself to show off their considerable skills to the best advantage. There are tunes here by Duke Ellington (of course), Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, W.C. Handy, Erroll Garner, as well as some of Tyner's own material. In fact, his "Happy Days", which he dedicates to Keith Jarrett, is a most attractive cut with its exuberance, strong harmonies and Tyner obvious delight with his composition.
Tyner, who is entering his 5th decade as a performer runs the table with this tribute album. There are lovely, sentimental, romantic ballads like "Sweet and Lovely" and "My Foolish Heart", jagged edged pieces like Monk's "Pannonica", bop with "A Night in Tunisia", swing with "Lullaby of Birdland" and Ellington with "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". An outstanding track on an album filled with outstanding tracks is his tribute to Hines "Blues for Fatha". It's classic Hines, with those dazzling runs, with refinements added by Tyner. An unbeatable combination. As befits a performer of Tyner's caliber, it's all done with consummate skill, sensitivity to the music and unparalleled improvisational art. There is little that one can write about a personage like Tyner that hasn't already been written many, many times before. Suffice it to say that Jazz Roots is another memorable and special performance by a Hall of Fame jazz pianist and is highly recommended. Visit the Jazz Resource Center at www.jazzcenter.org for an interesting discussion of Tyner's life and music.