It seems only fitting that the initial new release on the latest revival of the Impulse label features McCoy Tyner and Michael Brecker. When Impulse started out in 1960, John Coltrane and Tyner were the first artists to be signed, and when Impulse was briefly brought back by MCA in the 1980s, two of its most important albums were recordings by Brecker. There are not a lot of surprises on this quartet matchup (with bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Aaron Scott) except perhaps for how well Tyner and Brecker mesh together.
During his years on Milestone, McCoy Tyner had the opportunity to record in a variety of settings with many of his favorite players. For this disc the innovative pianist is featured with quite an all-star crew: trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, flutist Hubert Laws, Bennie Maupin on tenor and bass clarinet, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, Stanley Clarke (in a rare appearance at the time on acoustic bass), drummer Jack DeJohnette and percussionist Bill Summers. In addition to a pair of Tyner's originals, songs were contributed by Laws, DeJohnette, Hutcherson and Hubbard ("One Of Another Kind"). The music is essentially high-quality advanced modal hard bop and each of the sidemen get their opportunities to be showcased.
An interesting project that works quite well. The already-distinctive pianist McCoy Tyner utilized bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and two Latin percussionists to interpret a full set of Duke Ellington songs (although "Caravan" was actually composed by Juan Tizol). In addition to some well-known standards, Tyner debuted an unrecorded Ellington piece, "Searchin'," and revived "Mr. Gentle & Mr. Cool." This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner's debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style.
This is McCoy Tyner in the Blue Note studios five months after his boss of the previous six years, John Coltrane, had died. Tyner had made albums under his name during the Coltrane period, but this set for a bigger Tyner band, including the tenor saxist Bennie Maupin and trumpeter Lee Morgan represents a more radical break from the more orthodox piano trio or sax-led quartet jazz the pianist had fitfully explored since 1963.
The debut recording from McCoy Tyner's big band features the pianist's all-star 15-piece unit romping through five of his originals (including "Blues for Basie") plus Steve Turre's "Lotus Flower." With such fine soloists as tenors Junior Cook and Ricky Ford, trumpeter Kamau Adilifu, trombonist Turre, and the leader, the ensemble (which includes John Clark's French horn and the tuba of Howard Johnson) had quickly gained its own sound and the results are quite memorable and frequently exciting. Recommended.
Michael Brecker, a major influence on today's young saxophonists, shows off his own influences a bit throughout this fine modern straight-ahead set. Brecker sounds surprisingly like Stanley Turrentine on parts of "Midnight Voyage," and otherwise displays his roots in Ernie Watts and John Coltrane. With the exception of Don Grolnick's "Willie T.," the music on the CD is comprised of group originals (five by the leader) and falls into the 1990s mainstream of jazz. While the tenor saxophonist has plenty of blowing space (really letting loose on the exciting closer, "Cabin Fever"), Pat Metheny is mostly pretty restrained (in a Jim Hall bag) except for his wild solo on guitar synth during "Song for Bilbao."