Sun 11 Mar 2012
Some of my finest and dearest memories are of having seen live a few of the jazz giants I had the chance to be contemporary with. Among them Thelonius Monk, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Chick Correa. I was looking forward to hear and see playing live pianist McCoy Tyner who gave one concert last night in Petakh-Tikvah.
McCoy Tyner’s first meeting with fame took place in 1960 when at the age of 22 he joined the famous John Coltrane Quartet led by Coltrane (tenor sax), with Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). It was the time when Coltrane recorded his first great album ‘My Favorite Things’ and continued to play and make records for the next five years with one of the greatest bands in the history of jazz. By 1965 when Coltrane continued to experiment and invent, entering the free jazz universe Tyner who was more conservative and tied to the melodic school of classic American jazz left Coltrane to start an independent career.
Most of his great successes in concerts and records belong to the trio formula – typically with bass and drums joining Tyner’s piano which carries most of the melodic line (when he is not joined by guitar or saxophone musicians). Here he is in 1989, together with Avery Sharpe – bass and Aaron Scott – drums, playing Monk’s Dream.
A more recent recording dates from 2002 in Marciac, with Avery Sharpe again at bass and Al Foster on drums. The formula is pretty simple, a strong melodic introduction in many cases with a classic music ambiance, followed by generous opportunities for the bass and drums in developing, reinterpreting, and improvising on the theme, with a crescendo reunion dominated by the sound universe created by the piano towards the end. Round, balanced, beautiful!
The concert last night was not part of the Hot Jazz series I am usually attending and I frankly missed this. I will not comment on the price of the tickets, yes it was more than double of the one for a concert in the series, but I and the other fans would probably have paid even more to see and hear Tyner. However, at any price I would have expected the Zappa Club who organized the concert to print at least a basic leaflet introducing the artists playing together as part of the trio. Acoustics were mediocre, a little better after the break. Tyner himself was great, he has a sound that fills the air and envelops everything around in music. He looked however frail, tired or maybe just the age puts a tag, and the end of the concert seemed abrupt, with the musicians never returning to the stage even to thank and acknowledge the fans who stayed and applauded for minutes. This was a little strange and disappointing.