Tag Archives: McCoy Tyner

“Live” All Star album is a Masterpiece…

This is the last blog in my series on live albums.  MILESTONE JAZZSTARS IN CONCERT is a fantastic “Live” LP featuring three jazz giants:  McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, and Ron Carter.  They were accompanied on drums by a much younger Al Foster.

 

This 2 record set documents the 20 concert tour of the “Jazzstars” in the fall of 1978.  McCoy Tyner (Piano), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone), and Ron Carter (Acoustic Bass) each had very different but potentially complementary styles.  They were fascinated by the musical  challenge of working together.  The only reason it was able to be done, however, is because at the time they all recorded on Milestone Records.

The Album features solo’s by Tyner, Rollins, and Carter, as well as songs performed by  duet, trio, and with the entire quartet.

I bought this LP at a garage sale.  I had never heard it before nor did I know anything about this album.  I think I paid 10 cents for it.  I was blown away by the music as well as the sound quality of this record.  Let’s give it a listen…

Side 1

The Cutting Edge

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This song was written by Sonny Rollins and it is performed by the entire quartet.  The announcer is Quincy McCoy, who also helped with staging and lighting.  This song is a tour-de-force of powerful Jazz.  You think the opening riffs of Rollins are amazing and then Tyner takes over!  Then Ron Carter lays a spell on everyone with his bass solo.  This acoustic jazz with the force of fusion jazz.  Rollins returns for an even more inventive solo, never losing any of the rhythmic power of the music.

Alone Together

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 This song was written by Howard Deitz and Arthur Schwartz.  It was first introduced in a Broadway play called Flying Colors.  The first jazz recording of this song was by Artie Shaw in 1939.  It went on to become a Jazz Standard.  This cut is a duet between Tyner and  Carter.  Tyner’s playing virtuosity defined! The bass at the end by Carter is mesmerizing.  I love the word play of the title.  They are alone, but they are also together. What a great name for a duet.

Side 2

Continuum

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 Saxophone solo written and performed by Sonny Rollins.  This is a truly historic document of a genius at work.  This solo is stunning!  Rollins improvises for over 5 minutes and never bores you or becomes repetitive.  This melody literally is a continuum.  Live in front of an audience he puts to shame every musician who ever tried to improvise a solo.  Everyone from the Grateful Dead to Coltrane must stand in awe of the genius of the man.

Nubia

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 This song was written by McCoy Tyner.  It appeared on his album Together, which was recorded and released the same year.  Together was also produced by Orrin Keepnews.  This is an emotional composition that features the entire quartet.  Return to Forever would have been proud to have written this one. Tyner takes us on a 15 minute musical journey that out Chicks – Chick Corea.

Side 3

N.O. Blues

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 This song was written by Ron Carter and features the entire quartet.  Ron Cater has played with everyone from Bill Evans to A Tribe  called Quest.  He may be the most recorded acoustic bass player in history.  This is an awesome jazz-blues number.  About half way through Cater gets his turn to solo and displays the talents that he is so revered for:  creativity, soul, and technique all in one.  I love the slide at the end of his solo that leads back into the main theme.

Willow Weep For Me

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Side three of the album is the Ron Cater Side.  He wrote N.O. Blues and then he solos on this song written by Ann Ronell.  This is a brilliant choice for a bass solo.  Once again improvisational skills are at the genius level.

Side 4

In A Sentimental Mood

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 This is the Duke Ellington classic that is performed by Rollins and Tyner.  I think The Duke would have loved this arrangement of his classic tune.

A Little Pianissimo  

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 Written by and performed solo by McCoy Tyner.  Tyner is again using word play in the title of his song.Pianissimo hints at a combination of the words Piano and Solo yet it’s meaning is quite. Translated literally, the title would mean “a little quiet”.  This composition is anything but small and quiet. It does have the “little pianissimo ”  main theme.  You can sense the spell he put the crowd under because of the slight moment of silence before the applause.

Don’t Stop The Carnival

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 This song is a traditional tune arranged by Sonny Rollins.  The song is performed by the trio of Rollins, Carter, and Foster.  It has that great Brazilian beat.  It takes me straight to the streets of Rio…  You can hear the crowd at several points in the recording and it sounds like a party’s goin’ on…  The Milestone Jazzstars leave them dancing in the aisles.

So where did they go from this tour in 1977?  Since 1996 Al Foster has been touring with his own band.  Ron Carter became a great music educator.  He recently retired from City College in New York where he was a Distinguished Professor of Music.  He currently sits on the board of the Harlem Jazz Music Center.  McCoy Tyner is still going strong.  He has a new album out called “Guitars”.  It features  Derek Trucks, Bella Fleck, Bill Frisell, John Scofiled, and Marc Ribot.  In addition the core band that plays with all of these great guitar players is Jack DeJohnnette, and of course Ron Cater!  Last, but not least is Sonny Rollins.  He went on just a few years later to record some memorable Sax solos on the 1981 Rolling Stones LP – Tattoo You.  Including the great one at the end of the song Waiting on a Friend.  Sonny Rollins has just announced that he, like McCoy Tyner, will tour in 2013.  He just tweeted that details will follow after January 1st.  What a world, what a world…

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Posted in Jazz Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Up next, A series of blogs about Live LP’s…

My next project is to write a series of blogs about 3 very different, but highly collectible “Live” LP’s.  The first blog will be about the worst live album from one of the most famous live bands. I am referring to Steal Your Face” by the Grateful Dead.  This LP is widely considered to be the worst live recording of the Dead.  The LP is still highly collectible, however; because of the album cover.  Exterior condition is almost more important to the value of the LP than the interior condition of the actual vinyl.  Here’s what the cover looks like:

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This is the first appearance of the famous Grateful Dead logo.  I think the album is better than advertised.

Next up will be a “Live” LP from an artist who is also known for his high quality “Live” performances.  This record is a fantastic “Live” LP, but the artist has attempted to suppress it in spite of attempts by his fans to force him to re-release it.  The LP I am referring to is:  Time Fades Away by Neil Young.  When the LP came out it got great reviews and sold over 1,000,000 copies.  It was his first “Live” LP. It was never released on CD and Neil doesn’t even plan to include it in the next volume of his Archives.  He has his reasons and we will discuss them in the blog at that time…

Here’s the album cover:

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Last but not least is a “Live” LP from three Jazz giants: McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins.  This is a truly great “Live” LP, and yet; I had never heard of this album before.  I bought this LP by chance when I bought over 500 LP’s for $50 at a garage sale.  I never knew the three of them had toured together and recorded a “Live” LP!  This is music making at a very high level.  It’s a mystery to me that this LP is not more well known.  The LP is called “Milestone Jazzstars:  Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner – In Concert”

Here’s the Album Cover:

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All three of these LP’s are collectible in their own right. Each is collectible for a different reason. I’m lucky to have all three. Each LP has a fascinating story behind it too. We will delve into each one. First up: The worst “Live” LP from one of the most famous “Live” bands in Rock-n-Roll history. The Grateful Dead – “Steal Your Face”…

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Posted in Jazz Music, Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Solo Jazz Piano a Diversion?

In this months edition of ” The Absolute Sound” (February 2011-issue 210, pages 120-121) there is an article called “New Jazz on Ten Fingers” by Jeff Wilson.  Being a pianist myself, I was very interested in reading this article.  First Jeff gets high marks for a very interesting and deep subject.  Second, he gets high marks for introducing new solo jazz piano discs.  I don’t want to nit pick his article, but I do want to add to this discussion. 

Jeff makes the point that it seems that most jazz pianists only do solo recordings as a diversion. He also states that there are many jazz pianists that have never recorded a solo album.  I could be wrong but it seemed to me there was an implication that maybe some of these pianists were reluctant to play solo while others excelled at it.  What I  believe is that many of them would have recorded solo works but record labels are concerned with how marketable solo piano is.  Jeff’s reference to Keith Jarrett and the legendary LP “The Koln Concert” is great.  Here is living proof that solo piano music has a market.  Everybody went out and bought that record.  It was hip.  It was cool.

 

 

 

 

 

I ‘d really like to hear Lenny Tristano’s “The New Tristano” (1962 LP) and I will go on the hunt for it on vinyl. Also, McCoy Tyner’s “Solo”.    Here are a couple of samples of the other discs Jeff discussed.  First “Fred Hersch plays Jobim”

 

01. Por Toda Minha Vida 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Vijay Iyer Solo:

09-vijay_iyer–games-oma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Piano is the ultimate instrument.  It is really the only insturment that does not require any other accompanyment.  In some ways it is kind of strange to discuss the uniqueness of solo piano performances.  Beethoven would find it hilarious.  Solo piano was the norm not the exception thoughout music history.  To me there is nothing quite like seeing solo piano performances live.  It is the acid test, the ultimate.  I bet even the jazz pianist that never recorded solo work would have loved to release solo performances, but couldn’t get past the A&R man at record company.    So here are a few nuggets from the past that did not get mentioned in Mr. Wilson’s article:

Bill Evans “Alone”.

No discussion of Jazz on Ten Fingers could be complete without the mention of the great Bill Evans.  Here is the play list from this great LP:

1.  Here’s That Rainy Day

2.  A Time For Love

3.  Midnight Mood

4.  On A Clear Day4 On A Clear Day

5.  Never Let Me Go

I wish I had room to upload “Never Let Me Go”.  This is 14 minutes of magic.  It rivals John Coltraine’s “My Favorite Things.”  This is a must have Bill Evans Recording. Thank you to Jimmy Joe for my copy of this amazing LP!

Next:  Teddy Wilson -Solo:

Solo Piano: Keystone Transcriptions 1939-1940

Teddy Wilson – 01 – Get out of town

2.  Just One Of Those Things

3.  I Get A Kick Out Of You

4.  I Love You

5.  It’s All Right With Me

6.  Love For Sale

7.  Too Darn Blue

8.  Blue Turning Grey Over You

9.  Aint’ Cha’ Glad?

10.  I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling

11.  Zomky

12.  Black And Black

13.  Ain’t Misbehavin’

14.  Honeysuckle Rose

Last, check out Ellis Marsalis. (The Father of Winton Marsalis)  He has some great Jazz solo piano discs.  I really love the one he did of Duke Ellington songs. (Duke In Blue)  This is a must have!

Duke in Blue

This only scratches the surface of solo jazz piano performances.  What do you think?  Any comments?

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Posted in CD Picks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments