Saturday, May 26, 2018

Benito Gonzalez - Passion Reverence Transcendence: The Music of McCoy Tyner (Whaling City Sound, 2018)

Pianist Benito Gonzalez crafts an excellent tribute to the legendary pianist and composer McCoy Tyner by taking the master's compositions and recording his own interpretations of them in the company of Gerry Gibbs on drums and Essiet Okon Essiet on bass. Gonzalez has the strong attack and lightning fast technique indicative of Tyner, clearly one of his greatest influences, but the Venezuelan pianist is clearly his own man, with a distinctive style, and he plays these songs are played with fire and spirit. Familiar compositions are performed in different ways like "Brazilian Girls" which is actually one of the concluding pieces of the album, with a flourish of lush solo piano opening allowing the bass and percussion to gradually fold in, as the music breaks out into a hard edged rhythmic powerhouse. The mixture of ripe chords and lightning fast runs around the keyboard is enthralling as is the thick bass and percolating drumming, coming together for a bewitching full trio improvisation, with a taut bass solo that is framed by hand percussion, followed by an impressive drum solo. They blast out of the gate on "Inner Glimpse" with elastic bass and loose drumming allowing the undulating melody to develop from the piano, and the trio moves in a quickly changing morphing the music in a fast paced manner. The band is a torrid three headed beast on this selection, moving from a driving beat to quick openings for bass and drums to shine through. The keep the level of spontaneity high, accelerating to a fast pace and then breaking things down into their component parts. "Atlantis" is one of McCoy Tyner's most powerful performances, anchoring a phenomenal live album of the same name, and Gonzalez is up to the task, with Gibbs and Essiet setting a deep rhythmic foundation and the pianist firing on all cylinders, creating a ceaseless and very impressive performance. Bringing the drums to the forefront, "Rotunda" generates a bouncing pattern that suits the music well, with Gonzalez dancing around the keyboard, balancing heavy low end chords, with startlingly fast notes splaying out of the upper end. The bass and drums are dialed in and the whole group takes on the feel of a percussion ensemble at times, with gales of sound and rhythm billowing forth. Finally, "Fly With the Wind" has subtly built textures, then launches itself forward with the trio maintaining the fast paced creative energy that pervades album as a whole. Gibbs uses a battery of percussion instruments along with the cascading piano that crackles with energy, developing a hypnotic dialogue between all three instruments. This was a very good album that displayed outstanding playing and commitment to MyCoy Tyner's musical vision that is a constructive interpretation of his music. Passion Reverence Transcendence -

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