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McCoy Tyner: Land of Giants

Franz A. Matzner By

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Aptly named, McCoy Tyner’s Land of Giants transports listeners into a sound world of varied and stunning topography. Featuring Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Eric Harland on drums, and Charnett Moffett on bass, this recording stands as a monument to Tyner’s stature as bandleader, player, and composer.

Always commanding, Tyner’s strength permeates each piece without ever dominating. As accompanist, he creates a fertile grounding for his soloists, and as soloist, he explores new vistas without violating the overall sonic environment. The same can be said for veteran vibraphonist Hutcherson, whose mellifluous lines mesh smoothly with Tyner’s firm approach. There is something intensely compelling about this combination of piano and vibraphone, the vibe’s almost ethereal overtones floating over the piano’s solid, crisp base, combining to create a lingeringly forceful tableaux.

And that doesn’t even account for the rhythm section, which is far from typical. Harland and Moffett provide a ceaseless current of energy and dynamism that invigorates or grounds depending on necessity. Harland’s rhythms chatter interactively, while Moffet’s playing erupts with ideas. A highly innovative instrumentalist, Moffett reveals talents here is of particular interest. While many bass greats have already expanded the instrument’s traditional role, Moffett is pushing toward the next level of expressiveness. Employing skilled bowing, plucking, and a rare control of shaded coloring, his solos possess graceful depth.

Land of Giants includes seven new Tyner compositions, as well as new versions of Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone,” Frank Loesser’s “If I Were a Bell,” and Lewis and Coots’ “For All We Know.” All of Tyner’s works possess his signature sense of balance, and house his band’s talents well. Of particular note are the pulsating “Manalyuca” and the spiritually striving “Contemplation.”

This is an album of stately, nuanced music full of clarity and emotion. Produced by an intriguing mix of veterans and younger musicians, all the pieces are excellent, and if you have had the opportunity to hear this group live, it is satisfying to find a recording that captures much of their vitality.


Track Listing: Serra Do Mar; December; Steppin

Personnel: McCoy Tyner

Title: Land Of Giants | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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