McCoy Tyner: Solo (Live from San Francisco) & Live 2009 (6th Annual Concert Tour: The Works of McCoy Tyner)


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McCoy Tyner
Solo: Live From San Francisco
Half Note

SFJAZZ Collective
Live 2009: 6th Annual Concert Tour

In the more than four decades since he was a mainstay of the John Coltrane Quartet, McCoy Tyner has enhanced his stature as a bandleader, composer and seminal modern jazz pianist. His muscular, roiling ensembles—from big band to combo to trio—expressed his concepts of musical turbulence, polyphony and counterpoint, all propelled by rhythmic waves and surges full of crosscurrents that could reach the intensity of jazz tsunamis. In recent years he's returned more to piano-based recordings, like Solo: Live from San Francisco. Meanwhile his compositions have been receiving more attention from arrangers and bands, one of the best Live 2009, wherein each of the seven members of the SFJAZZ Collective contribute both an arrangement of a Tyner piece and an original, some of them evidently inspired by the pianist.

Tyner has become one of, if not THE, most complete and historically inclusive jazz pianist to emerge from the maelstrom of the post-bop '60s. Solo, recorded in concert at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco in May 2007, finds him in an expansive mood, revisiting two pieces by Coltrane, six of his own compositions and three standards. He shows his affinity for the Afro-centric School of jazz piano championed by his compatriots Randy Weston and Abdullah Ibrahim on his "African Village," with its rumbling left hand and ringing, kora-like notes from the right. He delves deep into the contours of Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" and "Naima," fashioning his own personal meditations. He also conjures up memories of another pianist who made another famous live recording on the California Pacific coast, Erroll Garner, in his rapturous rubato introductions to "I Should Care" and "In A Mellow Tone."

The most impressive aspect of the SFJAZZ Collective's Live 2009 is how collective the sound of the ensemble is. It's an ensemble where solos emerge from within, where each piece has its own shape, feel and an individuality greater than the sum of the parts; arrangements are as much the focus and star as solos. Pianist Renee Rosnes takes an episodic approach to Tyner's captivating "Fly with the Wind" while her own piece "Migrations," also episodic, borrows (as does "Fly...") some Gil Evans techniques: tricky turnarounds, a touch of Latin tinge and a surprising, long coda consisting of bass and piano solos. Trombonist Robin Eubanks is most adventurous rhythmically, making his Tyner medley of "Indo-Serenade/Parody" a juxtaposition of polymeters and contrasting slow/fast horn passages. His "Yes We Can—Victory Dance (for Barack Obama)," begins with an off-kilter, clapped meter morphing into incantatory drum beats, weaving horn textures with solos by Eubanks, mostly over claps and drums, trumpeter Dave Douglas and Rosnes. Joe Lovano spotlights his own tenor sax on his chart of "Aisha," the one pure ballad here, and also offers the wildly contrasting original, "Jazz Free," a piece that flirts with the avant-garde before settling into a couple of up-tempo solos from him and Rosnes. Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon contributes a brisk take on Tyner's "Four By Five" as well as his own, catchy, boppish "No Filter." Bassist Matt Penman arranges Tyner's 6/4 "Three Flowers" with interwoven solos and ensemble passages and on his own "Yup, We Did" creates exhilarating hard bop frames for driving tenor and alto sax solos. Douglas features himself and Rosnes on a reimagining of Tyner's "Persina" and creates a "cyclic suite" for his own "Sycamore." Drummer Eric Harland tackles Tyner's modal "Consensus" in rich, contrasting ensemble sections; it features Douglas' most impressive solo of the CD. Harland's own "E-Collective" employs an Indian tala rhythm, layered counterpoint and solos in varied tempos.

Tracks and Personnel

Solo: Live From San Francisco

Tracks: African Village; I Should Care; Lazy Bird; Naima; Just Feelin'; You Taught My Heart To Sing; Blues For Jeff; Ballad For Aisha; Sweet And Lovely; In A Mellow Tone.

Personnel: McCoy Tyner: piano.

Live 2009: 6th Annual Concert Tour

Tracks: CD1: Fly With The Wind; Three Flowers; Yes We Can: Victory Dance; Sycamore; Jazz Free; No Filter. CD2: Peresina; Four By Five; Aisha; Consensus; Indo-Serenade/Parody; E-Collective; Migrations; Yup, We Did.

Personnel: Joe Lovano: tenor sax; Miguel Zenon: alto sax; Dave Douglas: trumpet; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Renee Rosnes: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Eric Harland: drums.

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