The piano trio performs standards at one end of the small dining room while you and your companion sip champagne at a nearby table. It’s a cool jazz session from an acoustic trio. Certainly relaxed and enjoyable, this evening wears a graceful posture but refuses to serve you subtle fire or strong emotion. It’s a far cry from John Coltrane’s classic quartet of the early ‘60s.
This cool acoustic trio carries over the percussive keyboard style of McCoy Tyner, but delivers without hammerin’ the message home and without including excessively improvised spates from any of the three veterans. Tyner prefers to stay with the melody for the most part and lets loose on occasion. Bassist Stanley Clarke opts for the acoustic stand-up instrument on this session, accompanying lyrically and issuing rapid-fire runs during solo spots. Drummer Al Foster offers a plain and simple (tasteful) accompaniment, and shows a variety of textures when trading fours.
Standards "Never Let Me Go" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" appear as pleasant as you’ve heard them a thousand times. Keeping good taste at the forefront, Tyner improvises only slightly as the chords change in familiar fashion, never losing sight of the melody. Clarke and Foster take their turns at the solo mic’ without ever breaking a sweat. Elsewhere, "Going ‘way Blues" sashays to a relaxed toe-tapping groove and two versions of "I Want to Tell You ‘bout That" compare Clarke’s acoustic bass principles to his electric bass virtuosity. While the timbre remains different, both takes use the common denominator found in the blues and jazz. The trio ensures that spontaneity, syncopation, and familiar rhythms make the blues tunes more exciting than middle-of-the-road standards. Since McCoy Tyner has chosen to present us with both aspects, we are welcome to sit back in our comfortable night club seats, enjoy a little more champagne, and appreciate both sides.