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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1972 | Milestone

After the death of John Coltrane, his longtime pianist McCoy Tyner was in something of a musical quandary. Keeping up with his mentor through the incredible explorations of the early '60s, he seemed to have some difficulty navigating the even further out territories explored in the two or three years before Coltrane's death in 1967. His subsequent albums as a leader were solid, enjoyable efforts but seemed oddly retrograde, as though he needed time to settle back and re-digest the information handed down to him. With Sahara, Tyner found the precise perfect "middle ground" on which to stand, more structured than late Coltrane, but exploding with a ferocity and freedom of sound that made it simply one of the greatest jazz recordings of the decade. None of the other members of his quartet ever sounded so inspired, so liberated as they do here. Sonny Fortune threatens to tear the roof off the joint on more than one occasion, Calvin Hill is more than rock-solid on bass, his roots arcing deeply into the earth, and as for Alphonse Mouzon, well, no one familiar with his later vapid meanderings in fusion would begin to recognize him here, so incendiary is his playing. And Tyner develops so much pure energy, channeled with such pinpoint precision, that one worries about the physical stability of any piano under such an assault. From the extraordinarily intense "Ebony Queen" through the ruminative solo "A Prayer for My Family, the equally intense "Rebirth," and the concluding, side-long title track, there's not a misstep to be heard. "Sahara," over the course of its 23 minutes, covers vast ground, echoing the majesty and misery of the geographical area with percussion and flute interludes to some of Tyner's very best playing on record. Even something that could have resulted in a mere exercise in exotica, his koto performance on "Valley of Life," exudes both charm and commitment to the form. Tyner would go on to create several fine albums in the mid-'70s, but never again would he scale quite these heights. Sahara is an astonishingly good record and belongs in every jazz fan's collection. © Brian Olewnick /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 1, 1977 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

The music on this double LP had been unreleased when the two-fer came out in 1976 and has yet to be reissued on CD, but that had more to do with the decline of Blue Note in the late '60s than with the quality of the performances, which are consistently high. In fact, the impressive variety makes this a release well worth bidding on. The innovative pianist McCoy Tyner performs two numbers with his 1969 trio (featuring bassist Herbie Lewis and drummer Freddie Waits); three other songs add Harold Vick's soprano, the reeds of Al Gibbons, and a string quartet, while the three remaining pieces feature the trio with altoist Gary Bartz, flutist Hubert Laws, and the oboe of Andrew White. All of the compositions (the best known is "Song for My Lady") are Tyner originals, and the music is consistently intriguing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

Two and a half years after his last recording as a leader for Impulse, pianist McCoy Tyner emerged to start a period on Blue Note that would result in seven albums. Having left John Coltrane's Quartet in late 1965, Tyner was entering a period of struggle, although artistically his playing grew quite a bit in the late '60s. For this release, the pianist is teamed with tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Elvin Jones for five of his originals. Highlights of the easily recommended album include "Passion Dance," "Four by Five," and "Blues on the Corner." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

On this excellent set, McCoy Tyner had the opportunity for the first time to head a larger group. His nonet is an all-star aggregation comprised of trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Julian Priester, altoist James Spaulding, Bennie Maupin on tenor, Bob Northern on French horn, Howard Johnson on tuba, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Joe Chambers in addition to the pianist/leader. Tyner debuted six of his originals, and although none became standards (perhaps the best known are "The High Priest" and "All My Yesterdays"), the music is quite colorful and advanced for the period. Well worth investigating. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Blue Note Records

This stimulating LP has an interesting combination of players. It may be the only recording to include both pianist McCoy Tyner and his successor with the John Coltrane Quartet, Alice Coltrane (who adds atmosphere with her harp). The set also matches the young altoist Gary Bartz with Wayne Shorter (doubling on tenor and soprano), whom he succeeded in Miles Davis' group, and reunites Shorter and bassist Ron Carter, and Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones. The all-star sextet stretches out on lengthy renditions of four of Tyner's modal originals, and there is strong solo space for the leader and the two saxophonists. Wayne Shorter in particular is often quite intense. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 1, 1974 | Blue Note Records

The final McCoy Tyner Blue Note album found the innovative pianist during a low point in his career. His records were not selling that well, his mentor John Coltrane had passed away three years earlier, and it was not obvious that Tyner would be able to continue struggling successfully to make a living out of music. Fortunately, his fortunes would soon rise when he signed with Milestone in 1972 and the critics began to rediscover him. Asante is a bit unusual, for the emphasis is on group interplay rather than individual solos. The four originals feature Tyner with altoist Andrew White, guitarist Ted Dunbar, bassist Buster Williams, drummer Billy Hart, Mtume on congas, and two spots for the voice of Songai. Worth investigating. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Booklet
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | Milestone

Pianist McCoy Tyner is heard at the height of his powers throughout this rewarding set. He contributed all five compositions and has a colorful and diverse group of major players at his disposal to interpret them: vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Gary Bartz, Azar Lawrence on tenor and soprano, John Stubblefield doubling on oboe and flute, bassist Buster Williams, drummer Billy Hart and both Mtume and Guillerme Franco on percussion. The results (which include a brief Tyner-Hutcherson duet on "Above the Rainbow") are quite rewarding and serve as a strong example of McCoy Tyner's music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1977 | Milestone

This project by the powerful pianist McCoy Tyner is a bit unusual in that he is featured with an all-star rhythm section (guitarist Earl Klugh, bassist Ron Carter, and either Jack DeJohnette or Eric Gravatt on drums), a horn section (which includes a few solos for trumpeter Jon Faddis, tenor saxophonist Alex Foster, and trombonist Charles Stephens), and seven voices. Tyner was responsible not only for the five originals but the arrangements, too. In reality, the voices were not needed (they stick out as a bit of a frivolity), but Tyner plays as strong as usual; he has yet to record an uninspired solo. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Fantasy Records

In an attempt to avoid similarities, most of pianist McCoy Tyner's Milestone records of the 1970s used different instrumentation from each other. Here Tyner and his 1976 trio (with bassist Charles Fambrough and drummer Eric Gravatt) are joined by a trio of talented reed players (Gary Bartz, Joe Ford, and Ron Bridgewater) and percussionist Guilherme Franco for three of Tyner's originals; in addition, Ford is the only horn on his feature "Theme for Nana," and "Parody" is a Tyner-Gravatt duet. Because virtually all of Tyner's records are superior examples of modal-oriented jazz, this gem is merely an above-average effort. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | George Galiano

Composer

McCoy Tyner in the magazine