There was a red light that reflected into the piano which showed to everyone its inner workings. Vijay Iyer took the stage just shortly past the scheduled start time.
Iyer brought his blend of African, Asian and European music to the Toronto Jazz Festival. Joined by saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, standup bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, Iyer started with "Inertia," from Reimagining (Savoy Jazz, 2005). Iyer and his group played a good set, changing tempos and showing everyone the influences that brought him herea tale recalling his first time in Toronto some 10 years ago.
It was announced that here was no smoking within the venue. Someone should have told the McCoy Tyner Septet that. Starting off with "Trane-Like," from McCoy Tyner with Stanley Clarke and Al Foster (Telarc, 2000), there was no need for Tyner and group to play one or two numbers to warm up. They were on fire right from the get go.
Dipping into the Ellington songbook, "In A Mellow Tone" featured drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt setting his own tonethough not a mellow one. His drumming on this and throughout the whole night was outstanding.
Enter Tyner with "For All We Know." A solo piece, Tyner proved that he does not have to rely on past glories, notably his time with saxophone legend John Coltrane between 1960 and 1965, to have the grace, accolades and respect paid to him.
Charnett Moffett played standup bass like nobody's business. Whether with the bow or finger tapping and plucking techniques, Moffett left the audience amazed with his style.
Rounded out by Donald Harrison on alto saxophone, Steven Turre on trombone, Wallace Roney on trumpet and Eric Alexander on saxophones, the McCoy Tyner Septet burnt the place down. For the encore Tyner went back to Infinity (Impulse!, 1995) for "Happy Days." Those two words could not be truer. With his brown hat pulled down low and sharply dressed, Tynerwith that one song, with those two wordsdemonstrated the time he was having.
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