Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McCoy Tyner - Guitars (McCoy Tyner Music, 2008)

One of the great things about musicians having their own record labels is that they have a chance to record projects that really interest them. Legendary pianist and composer McCoy Tyner had wanted to record with guitarists, and now he had a chance by inviting some of the best in modern music to sit in with a world class trio of him, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette and recording the proceedings for a CD and DVD combo. Who would have thought we would ever hear freely improvised duets between Tyner and downtown guitar ace Marc Ribot? They work quite well as does their extraordinary version of the classic Tyner composition "Passion Dance" which is extremely intense with rumbling thunderous piano and stinging electric guitar and completely successful. Another highlight of the album is the rapport the core trio has with John Scofield on "Mr. P.C." which inspires everyone to wonderful and lengthy improvisatory flights. Derek Trucks steps up well, playing a fine melodic version of the standard "Greensleves" and banjoist Bela Fleck adds a different feel on "Trade Winds" and a surprising exploration of "My Favorite Things." Tyner meets Bill Frisell on his own turf, collaborating on the deeply exotic and patient "Boubacar" and "Baba Drame." The DVD is quite fascinating as well, it was recorded from multiple camera angles which allow you to focus on any of the individual players or the group as a whole. You also get a "fly on the wall" perspective as the musicians talk about structure and paths to use on each tune. The liner notes are well written and thoughtful, as is the entire project as a whole, classy and exploratory and filled with fine music.

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