McCoy Tyner: The Montreux Years

Covering 28 years, this collection shows the pianist in a variety of settings, with Gary Bartz, Bill Frisell, Joe Henderson and more

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This CD is one in a series compiled from private tapes made by the late Claude Nobs at the Montreux jazz festival. The 28-year gap between first and last performances here make this an interesting proposition for prospective buyers/listeners. The personnel details in the accompanying booklet are somewhat misleading but I have tried to present the correct line-ups in the discography below.

Opening with Latino Strut from 1986, the pianist is in storming form, taking no prisoners. He’s aided and abetted by the Sharpe/Hayes axis, the former adding a crowd-pleasing solo which helps elevate the air of excitement. By contrast, Eternally Yours – a multi-layered solo feature for the leader – is full of contrasting moods and rhythmic twists which were typical features when Tyner was left in isolation.

The quintet featuring Bartz and Frisell, which makes its first appearance on the churning Fly With The Wind, is a nicely balanced grouping with the saxophonist and guitarist effective in theme statements and solos – Bartz relishing the uplifting strains of Ballad For Aisha in particular. Elsewhere, the larger ensemble of Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit suffers at the hands of a muddy recording featuring long solos from Blake and Blythe.

Tyner is a towering presence throughout, adding some thunderous left-hand work to Fly With The Wind but he is highly effective in a subservient role behind the excellent Joe Henderson, in an arresting duo performance of Monk’s Ask Me Now.

The pianist’s admirers will not be disappointed by these performances in different settings.

Discography
(1) Latino Suite; (2) Eternally Yours; (3) Fly With The Wind; (4) Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit; (5) Ask Me Now; (3) African Village; Ballad For Aisha (83.01)
(1) Tyner (p); Avery Sharpe (b); Louis Hayes (d). Casino, Montreux, 14 July 1986.
(2) as (1) but Tyner (p) only. 18 July 1981.
(3) Tyner (p); Gary Bartz (as); Bill Frisell (g); Gerald Cannon (b); Eric Kamau Gravatt (d). Miles Davis Hall, Montreux, 14 July 2009.
(4) Paquito D’Rivera, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, Joe Ford (reeds); John Blake (vn); Sharpe (b); Ronnie Burrage (d). Casino, Montreux, 18 July 1981.
(5) as (1) but Tyner (p) add Joe Henderson (ts).
BMG BMGCAT747CD