TIME FOR TYNER, McCoy Tyner; Blue Note, recorded May, 1968.
Harmonic serendipity from vibes and piano, ditto for the personalities. This is our favorite of Tyner periods, beyond Coltrane and into McCoy. Cleverly arranged standards; Tyner puts the crop to the horses on “The Surrey With the Fringe On Top,” working the theme into a fast trot, the solo section into canter. “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was “is pegged on a two-note bass riff. But it’s the McCoy originals at all tempos, that glisten. Tyner’s propulsively lengthy attack covers wide stretches of varied territory and resolves in ways attorney’s might admire. Likewise Bobby Hutcherson, who rings in ways that mirror the pianist. My first introduction to McCoy was a band that featured bassist Herbie Lewis (with a big “Free Angela” sticker on his upright). This is welcome reminder. Here, Lewis adds a kinky touch to Tyner’s romanticism. Time check: for some reason I didn’t think much of Freddie Waits back then. Some of us made jokes about his playing. Perspective all-these-years later: I was wrong. Dead, driving wrong.
BITCHES BREW LIVE, Miles Davis; Columbia Legacy, recorderd July 1969 and August , 1970. For the last 25 years, a butchered document of the Miles Davis band heard on Columbia’s three disc “Isle of Wight” was the grail. This collection, finally, gives a long infusion of the ’70 festival performance (Dylan did not show), and a sax-less session recorded at the ’69 Newport Fest (Wayne Shorter was stuck in traffic). It takes some of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” for the band to hit stride minus Shorter, which suggests the saxophonist was the spark plug that kept things firing when Miles stepped away from the mic. Corea’s edgy play is everywhere, almost at once. On the Wight sessions, the band finds new worlds. Corea is joined by Keith Jarrett in the gig that made him swear off electric keys. Ssaxophonist Gary Bartz plays rough with the blues. Miles, powered again by Holland and DeJohnette, finds ways to come and come again, reaching for it like a pull-up, then descending to do it again. Why this? It makes sense of intense times. Then and now.
SO BEAUTIFUL SO WHAT, Paul Simon;Hear Music, released April of this year. The so-they-say on this disc is best since Graceland. Don’t believe it or compare them. There’s still some rhythmic assimilation going on and Simon likes the sound of African guitars. The tunes are catchy in a Simon sort of way and that’s good enough for me. God (and his only son) play a big role. But the spiritual thing never gets too mushy, escept for maybe “Love & Blessings” and only with the addition of “simple kindness.” The lyrics swing from pop aphorism —Love is eternal sacred light — to chuckle up: “It’s Jay-Zee, he’s got a kid on each knee.” After God slurs his creation as “slobs,” everything is fine. Let him tell you. “So beautiful so what.”
KODALY MUSIC FOR CELLO, Three Choral Preludes, Opus 4, 8; Maria Liegel Cello, Jeno Jando, piano; Naxos, recorded 1994-’95. Determined, inspiring, get-over-it music for those times you need it. Can someone suggest another recording?
RED CLAY, Freddie Hubbard; CTI, 1970. Follow up from last week’s Hubbard. How could I not? Everybody knows these numbers, these guys — Henderson, Hancock, Ron Carter, Lenny White — and what can I say? Solid. Freddie’s title tune is the best read of “Sunny” since Bobby Hebb’s original. “Suite Sioux” has become a post-bugaloo classic and “The Intrepid Fox” has set countless musicians, at a challenging pace, in search of themselves. This late-issue CD has an alternate take of “Red Clay” and an appreciation of John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” that, despite the flatulent beginning, seems to get it. Fun in the afternoon.