Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Wither's debut R&B album, "It Can Happen to Anyone," features the hit "Simple Things." She lives in the Hudson Tea building in Hoboken.
And on Monday, Withers is scheduled to sing at the famed Blue Note jazz club in New York City, where she'll join the likes of Freddie Jackson and Kenny Lattimore in a concert honoring songwriting maestro Barry Eastmond, who has penned songs for legendary divas like Anita Baker and Whitney Houston.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Numerous attributes made Tyner, who opened a six-night stint Tuesday at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village, a lasting influence. Among them, his innovative use of wide intervals that gave jazz a fresh sound; his delicate-to-pile-driver touch, producing gauzy filigrees to massive chords; his formidable solos, which ran from alluring melody to provocative angularity; and his compositions, many now part of the jazz repertoire.
"The Real McCoy" -- made for Blue Note in 1967 with tenorman Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Elvin Jones at Rudy Van Gelder's in Englewood Cliffs -- characterized Tyner's prowess. In the first set Tuesday, he revisited two classics from that recording -- "Search for Peace" and "Blues on the Corner" -- that also appear on his latest CD, "Quartet" (McCoy Tyner Music).
Tyner played with tenorman Joe Lovano, a longtime colleague who is on "Quartet," and his regular trio partners, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt. And while the leader -- a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship recipient whose Web site is mccoytyner.com -- is not the dynamo he was back in the day, he comes pretty close.
And that is taking into account not only the passing years -- he is now 69 -- but recent bouts of serious illness -- of which he has not spoken publicly, but whose impact is obvious. The toll that time and ill health have taken was revealed Tuesday in his substantial weight loss; in the softness of his raspy-voiced, friendly emcee announcements; and in the slight, aesthetically unimportant, diminution of his formerly stunning technique. Despite all these, Tyner still performed with deep musicality and feeling.
One number that exemplified his continued artistic vitality was his "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit," a 1970s piece that's also on "Quartet." The number is built on a driving left hand piano figure that Cannon picked up, and to which Gravatt added an invigorating beat. After Lovano's engaging theme rendition, and Cannon's big-noted solo, Tyner improvised. He played small, dashing figures, and some similarly conceived, but slower. He played off-the-beat 10-finger chordal passages, and he hit some of his idiosyncratic, resounding left-hand chords. These start with his hand at least a foot above the keyboard before it descends in a swoop, like a hawk after prey, making the piano roar. In his subsequent solo, Lovano mixed abstraction and tunefulness.
The leader was also powerful on the opening trio number, the Latin-tinged "Angelina." At points, he whammed his left hand down, that rumble setting up glowing right-hand notes. At other points, he laid out contrasting melodies in both hands. "Fly Like the Wind" and "Blues on the Corner," with its catchy theme, were two more where Tyner delivered vibrant, rhythmically charged essays.
The tender "Search for Peace" was a perfect complement to the general high energy of the set. Lovano's reading of the lovely theme emphasized his emotive, singing sound; his solo, his ear for melodic grace. In his solo, Tyner was equally song-like.
Zan Stewart is the Star-Ledger's jazz writer. He is also a musician who occasionally performs at local clubs. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (973) 324-9930.
Barry Eastmond, piano
Freddie Jackson, vocals
Elisabeth Withers, vocals
Kenny Lattimore, vocals
Gordon Chambers, vocals
Lenny Pickett, saxes
Sherrod Barnes, guitar
Alec Shantzis, keys
James Genus, bass
Ralph Rolle, drums
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
As McCoy Tyner approached his 69th birthday on Dec. 11, he could look back with a profound sense of pride on an incredibly rich recorded legacy that includes over 80 albums as a leader with Blue Note, Milestone, Impulse!, Columbia, Telarc and other assorted labels, and at least a dozen timeless, hugely influential titles with the John Coltrane Quartet, including Crescent, Live at the Village Vanguard, Ballads and A Love Supreme.
Add to that impressive list a whole string of important Blue Note sessions that Tyner made during the mid-1960s with the likes of Wayne Shorter (Juju, Night Dreamer, Soothsayer), Joe Henderson (Inner Urge, Page One, In ’n’ Out), Grant Green (Matador, Solid), Lee Morgan (Tom Cat, Delightfulee), Hank Mobley (A Caddy for Daddy, Slice of the Top, Straight No Filter), Lou Donaldson (Lush Life, Sweet Slumber) and Freddie Hubbard (Open Sesame, Ready for Freddie) and you’ve got the résumé of a jazz legend.
While career retrospectives are generally reserved for retirement parties, Tyner is by no means ready to hang it up. On the contrary, there’s a flurry of activity surrounding Tyner these days. After 50 years as a working musician, he finally has his own imprint (McCoy Tyner Music, under the auspices of Half Note Records), which he launched in September with the release of Quartet. A live outing recorded on New Year’s Eve 2006 at Yoshi’s in Oakland, Calif., it features a potent crew of Joe Lovano on saxophone, Christian McBride on bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. On seven spirited tracks, Tyner demonstrates that he is still very much in command of his fabled technique, dropping in brawny left-hand statements while summoning up cascading right-hand flourishes on his preferred Steinway grand. It’s a quality that was evident on the Philadelphia native’s debut recording as a leader, 1962’s Inceptions.
In the liner notes to that Impulse! trio date with bassist Art Davis and drummer Elvin Jones, Coltrane assesses the pianist’s extraordinary gifts: “First there is his melodic inventiveness and along with that the clarity of his ideas. He also gets a very personal sound from his instrument. In addition, McCoy has an exceptionally well developed sense of form, both as a soloist and accompanist. Invariably, in our group, he will take a tune and build his own structure for it. He is always looking for the most personal way of expressing himself. And finally, McCoy has taste. He can take anything, no matter how weird, and make it sound...
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