McCoy Tyner, Barbican, London
Thursday 17 November 2011
There is living history in the hands of McCoy Tyner. He was an original member of John Coltrane's seminal quartet, playing piano with them from 1960 to 1965. He later made more than 80 albums as a bandleader and composer.
The 72-year-old last played London in 2007, and for this London Jazz Festival celebration of 50 years of Impulse! Records, his trio of bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Joe Farnsworth was joined by American tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and singer Jose James for a set re-imagining the album Coltrane made with singer Johnny Hartman in March 1963.
Tyner, of course, was on those original sessions – all but one of the six released cuts were done in a single take – and here, four of the songs are featured, alongside instrumental outings of great energy and finesse. The opening "Fly with the Wind" clocks in at 16 minutes of creative group invention, with Tyner setting out the theme before the band strides in. Potter and Tyner chase the tune as if it had wings, with Potter's extended, inventive soloing producing not so much sheets of sound as cascading ribbons of the stuff. Joe Farnsworth's pulse is as deft as heart surgery, and there's a high-quality weave in Cannon's handiwork.
Tyner's hard-hitting, lyrical playing is interrupted mid-flow when he picks out a number of the audience bothering him with a movie camera. "PLEASE!" he implores, before taking it back to the top with a furious energy that belies his apparent physical frailty. The following "Blues on the Corner" (from seminal 1960s album The Real McCoy) was drawn, he says, from his home neighbourhood – great jazz players tend to live on the corner, it seems, as well as on the edge. And like the lyrical ballad that follows, with its spiral of a tune rising, step by step, like stairs to a lover's room, this is music that gives out more oxygen than it sucks in – it's giddyingly good.
Singer Jose James appears for "Autumn Serenade", and a lovely "Dedicated to You", a ballad in which bass and drums ease in like a slow train and Potter's sax unfurls in nocturnal slow motion. "You are too Beautiful" ups the tempo, before a final, aching ballad in "My One and Only Love", and a great, weeping solo from Potter. Jose James then departs, and Tyner closes with a piece of Ellington, and his own "African Village", a propulsive, energetic and triumphant finale.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Martin Scorsese 'in shock and sorrow' after death on set of new film Silence
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures