Now 66 years old, McCoy Tyner has made countless albums and become an elder statesman of jazz. He is certainly best known as the pianist in the transformational John Coltrane Quartet of the '60s, but it was with Blue Note recordings like this one from 1967, recently reissued in remastered form, that he revealed his personality as a composer, arranger, and soloist.
Tender Moments was one of Tyner's first major explorations of the world of colors and textures available through arrrangements for large ensemble. He gathered together some of his musical friends (some of whom had recorded for Blue Note already) and created settings for them which showcased their ensemble and solo prowess, as well as his own burgeoning skills as a colorist and architect. Tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin and flautist James Spaulding offer some of their finest solo work, adding rich dimensions to Tyner's themes, particularly on "Man from Tanganyika and "The High Priest. And Lee Morgana fellow Philadelphianis his ever-soulful and assured self, particularly on his blues feature "Lee Plus Three, where it's just Morgan with piano, bass, and drums.
From the beginning, we are in the presence of someone concerned with texture. The low brass beautifully complements the lighter statement of "Mode to John, Tyner's tribute to his old boss. On the jaunty and rhythmic "Man from Tanganyika, the flute and piano tandem on the theme and then the brass players' coloration gives the tune its clear shape.
Tyner's tribute to Monk is quite originalhe has created a Monkish theme and some intriguing horn lines and fills, without for a second sacrificing the sound that we know as his own. As in all his solo passages, Tyner manages to be subtle, engaging, and yet the same player who so drove the Coltrane band.
The album's high point is the album's tenderest moment: the gorgeous "All My Yesterdays. It's a true balladwith an exquisitely slow tempo all the way throughand low brass that is all about color. Tyner's solo is uncharacteristically gentle.
Tender Moments is all about architecture and scene painting, and as such it stands as a key marker in the recorded career path of one of the music's most individual artists.
Mode to John; Man from Tanganyika; The High Priest; Utopia; All My Yesterdays; Lee Plus Three.
Lee Morgan, Julian Priester, James Spaulding, Bennie Maupin, Bob Northern, Howard Johnson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Lewis, Joe Chambers.