All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

138

McCoy Tyner: McCoy Tyner: Extensions

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Languishing off-catalogue for many years, McCoy Tyner's Extensions may be the pianist's most unjustly neglected album. Strange days, for not only is the music ineffably vibrant, but Extensions is the only recording ever to feature Tyner alongside pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, who replaced him in saxophonist John Coltrane's group in 1966. The album has one foot in the echoes of John Coltrane's "classic quartet," of which Tyner was a member from 1960-65, and the other in the astral jazz style which Alice Coltrane and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders fashioned in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

After quitting John Coltrane, Tyner moved to Blue Note Records, before signing with Milestone in 1972, where he became a major draw through the decade and into the early 1980s. Extensions was the sixth of seven LPs he made for Blue Note between 1967 and 1970. These include the acclaimed The Real McCoy (1967), one the last albums to be produced by the label's founder, Alfred Lion, before ill-health led to his retirement, and Time For Tyner (1968), and also Asante (1970), another relatively uncelebrated work, which has pronounced stylistic links with Extensions.

The lineup for Extensions included The Real McCoy's drum and bass team of Elvin Jones and Ron Carter, but replaced tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson with Wayne Shorter, on tenor and soprano, and Gary Bartz, on alto. Alice Coltrane is featured on harp on three of Extensions' four tracks: "Message From The Nile," "Survival Blues" and "His Blessings." The first of these has a playing time of 12:21 minutes, the second 13:15, and they are the joint cornerstones of the disc, respectively opening side one and side two of the original LP.

Extensions looks ahead to the global-cultural inclusiveness of Tyner's work for Milestone in the mid and late 1970s, itself an important part of the astral jazz aesthetic. But although the album includes some of that style's signature elements, it does not wholly embrace it. The reasons were likely as much philosophical as musical.

As a devout Muslim, Tyner would have had little time for astral jazz's pantheism, and presumably even less for the psychedelics used by some of its practitioners. But he had long been drawn to African music, another astral signature, telling interviewer Frank Kofsky in 1966 that Africa was where he looked for inspiration (see Kofsky's Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music, Pathfinder Press, 1970). With Elvin Jones in the band, Tyner, like John Coltrane before him, had a direct line to African music's rhythmic legacy, and with Alice Coltrane, he had one of astral jazz's most influential artists on board too.

Extensions, then, is astral jazz without the bells, reefer, acid and incense. The opening track, "Message From The Nile" (the title could have come straight off a contemporaneous Pharoah Sanders or Alice Coltrane Impulse! album), opens with Coltrane's sweeping harp glissandos before settling into a steady, West African-derived groove supported by an earthy bass ostinato. There are soaring, lyrical solos from Tyner, Wayne Shorter, on vocalized tenor, and Coltrane.

"The Wanderer," which follows, is medium-fast hard bop and more closely in "classic quartet" territory. It is a restless, questing performance, which moves into free rhythm and outer edge harmonics, with solos from Tyner, both saxophonists and Jones.

The final two tracks, the medium-fast "Survival Blues," which also edges into atonality, and "His Blessings," a peaceful modal ballad, take us back into the mystic. Coltrane colors both tracks, and solos on "His Blessings." And someone, possibly Coltrane, is heard on bells behind Carter's solo on "Survival Blues." Like "Message From The Nile," both tracks are gorgeous.

Extensions is not certified astral jazz, but it follows a parallel musical path. Currently, in 2011, on-catalogue again, it deserves wider recognition.

Track Listing: Message From The Nile; The Wanderer; Survival Blues; His Blessings.

Personnel: McCoy Tyner: piano; Alice Coltrane: harp; Gary Bartz: alto saxophone; Wayne Shorter: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ron Carter: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.

Title: McCoy Tyner: Extensions | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Far from Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far from Over
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Live at Pyatt Hall" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Hanukkah" CD/LP/Track Review Hanukkah
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "Code Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Code Girl
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "The Truth" CD/LP/Track Review The Truth
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 30, 2017