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Album Review

In his mid-'60s at the time of this pair of studio sessions, McCoy Tyner is hardly the prototype of a musician re-creating past hits, instead he signals that he still has a few surprises up his sleeve. One thing apparent right away in his opener, "Illuminations," is that he is willing to stay in the background a good deal of the time, focusing the spotlight on bandmembers Terence Blanchard, Gary Bartz, Christian McBride, and Lewis Nash. The leader's driving Latin-flavored "Angelina" features his intricate solo as its centerpiece, though his instrument still seems mixed into the background. Perhaps the greatest surprise among his own works is the playful strutting "New Orleans Stomp," in which his down-home piano will lift a few eyebrows, accompanied by Blanchard's almost vocal-like trumpet. "The Chase" is a brief but rapid-fire workout with the rhythm section that will sound more familiar to longtime fans of Tyner. Bartz penned the strident post-bop vehicle "Soulstice," while Blanchard contributed the moody "Blessings," which blends a dark bass vamp with an uplifting Latin-flavored unison line by the two horns. McBride's "West Philly Tone Poem" features his warm arco bass in an inspired duet with the leader. The trio of standards heard here include "Alone Together" featuring Blanchard's sassy trumpet, while the relaxed but upbeat "If I Should Lose You" finds Bartz switching to soprano sax. This is yet another essential release by the always enjoyable McCoy Tyner.


Born: December 11, 1938 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It is to McCoy Tyner's great credit that his career after John Coltrane has been far from anti-climatic. Along with Bill Evans, Tyner has been the most influential pianist in jazz of the past 50 years, with his chord voicings being adopted and utilized by virtually every younger pianist. A powerful virtuoso and a true original (compare his playing in the early '60s with anyone else from the time), Tyner (like Thelonious Monk) has not altered his style all that much from his early days but he has...
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