Saturday, June 23, 2018

McCoy Tyner - Sama Layuca (Milestone/OJC, 1974)

This is a somewhat overlooked but excellent album my pianist McCoy Tyner with John Stubblefield on oboe and flute, Gary Bartz on alto saxophone, Azar Lawrence on tenor and soprano saxophone, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and marimba, Buster Williams on bass, Billy Hart on drums and Guilherme Franco and James Mtume on percussion. "Sama Layuca" open the album in an uptempo fashion with wonderfully rumbling percussion and piano and thick throbbing bass, featuring ripe solos for piano and soprano saxophone and stellar vibes playing. A lush solo piano introduction opens "Above the Rainbow" in a soulful fashion, and is soon joined beautiful joined by subtle vibes in an duet that has a complex yet very accessible rhythm.  "La Cubaña" opens with a bass solo, sounding powerful and dexterous, clearing a path for the rest of band to crash in, playing at as fast tempo with alto saxophone soaring over top with a strong solo pushed by volcanic percussion. The leader's piano breaks out in a white hot solo framed by drums and percussion and supported by elastic bass playing. Marimba solo sounds so cool amidst bass and cascading percussion, creating a forthright and exciting rhythm team. Spare piano and emotionally aching soprano saxophone echoing with spare bass and drums on the ballad "Desert Cry," organically developing music that sounds mysterious and exotic and leads the group into "Paradox," concluding the album with a massive sixteen minute slab of thrilling music that has layers of percussion and mallets, taking off with horns and a bracing piano send off. There is a tenor saxophone solo that builds to a strong cruising altitude over bubbling and simmering rhythmic support. Rippling piano with the rhythm section builds to blinding speed, creating an intense atmosphere and the marimba adds an interesting texture to the music contributing a fast solo that sits well with the drums, percussion and bounding bass pulling together a very exciting collective improv that the brash horns put into orbit, including another vital tenor solo and a powerful full band finale. Sama Layuca -

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