Sunday, December 02, 2007

McCoy Tyner - Quartet (McCoy Tyner Music, 2007)

Coming off a health scare last year pianist and composer McCoy Tyner is noticeably gaunt and thin on the cover of his newest release, but that has done nothing to quench the fire of his music. His first release on his new label is one of his most intense in years, and he's joined by a great trio of Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone, Christian McBride on bass and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums. Recorded live at Yohsi's in Oakland, the group nears the intensity of Tyner's incendiary live albums of the early 1970's Enlightenment and Atlantis. "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit" was a staple of that period, and it's the lead off track here, with Joe Lovano bellowing through the wide open spaces of this composition with an almost desperate fury. McBride gets a bass feature on "Sama Layuca" before the group builds to a powerful piano and drums crescendo. "Passion Dance" explodes out of an edgy drum intro, building into a lengthy and fiery Lovano solo. He gets a breather as a strong and intense piano trio interlude builds, before rejoining for a thunderous conclusion. "Search For Peace" has a lush thoughtful tenor saxophone opening taken at ballad speed, it's a wonderful feature for Lovano's thoughtful and patient playing at slow tempos. Tyner ends the disc showing his sensitive side on the elegant solo piano version of "For All We Know." This ruminative performance seems a little out of place considering the muscular brawn that had proceeded it, but it makes for a fine epilogue. This was a very good live album from a masterful band of all stars. There's a sense that they are really laying it on the line on each performance and that nothing is taken for granted. Fans of Tyner's intense early 70's records on Milestone will find a lot to enjoy here.

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