The Real McCoy (CD)

McCoy Tyner


Amoeba Review

John Schacht 06/16/2010

By 1967, the date of this release, McCoy Tyner was already established as one of jazz’s best pianists. Few could have successfully straddled the line between rhythm and melody that Tyner was asked to as a key member of John Coltrane’s band for six years, but Tyner did more than just survive in that role; he flourished and in the process created a signature style identifiable in every setting. On his first record for Blue Note (Tyner had released six sides for Impulse prior to this, most in a trio setting), the pianist reset the clock back to the modal explorations and rhythmic complexity of the kind Coltrane’s band excelled at before the saxophonist veered off into completely free territory in 1965. Tyner wisely tabbed former Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones to provide polyrhythmic propulsion here, and added two talented newcomers to push the music in new directions: tenor sax man Joe Henderson and bassist Ron Carter, who was still allied with Miles Davis’ 60s quintet at the time of this recording. Tyner penned all five compositions as well, showing off a sure hand in this realm as well. “Passion Dance” kicks things off with quick-tempo interplay between Carter and Jones, Tyner’s two sides – his percussive left hand banging out block chords, the right running lines across the upper register – melding into one ferocious entity for Henderson to play through. Rifling through scales with just a hint of skronk, Henderson does his best work on the even faster paced “Four by Five” as Carter and Jones sprint from the outset. Tyner shows off his blues chops on “Blues on the Corner,” an otherwise pedestrian track, but his touch and melodic sensibility really shine on the gorgeous ballad “Search for Peace.” But the session’s highlight has to be the exotic-flavored “Contemplation,” where Tyner feathers the upper register and slows his block chords down enough so the listener can really hear his harmonic sophistication. His five-minute solo is achingly beautiful, reminiscent of his work on Coltrane cuts like “Equinox” or “Alabama.” Jones and Carter ratchet up the tension with rhythmic interplay and the bassist delivers his own brief but stunning solo until Henderson shows up again to join Tyner in restating the middle Eastern-flavored theme for the outro. The playing and composition maintains that high level nearly all the way through, making this a must-own disc for fans of Tyner or mid-60s jazz.

Track Listing

Disc 1 Titles
Passion Dance
McCoy Tyner 08:44
McCoy Tyner 09:10
Four by Five
McCoy Tyner 06:33
Search for Peace
McCoy Tyner 06:27
Blues on the Corner
McCoy Tyner 05:58

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