CD: McCoy Tyner: Guitars

(Half Note)

One of jazz music's great piano pioneers, McCoy Tyner is 70 in December. His UK appearances this year suggested he is becoming irritated with the impact of the years on his legendary abilities to make a piano sound like an orchestra or a drum choir. This unusual project, which teams him with four guitarists and a banjoist, is in part designed to shift the spotlight off an audibly more fallible virtuoso. The guests sometimes sound a little overawed by the invitation, and by the monumental bass-and-drums pairing of Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette. But there are sporadic moments of fascination. One is when guitar revolutionary Marc Ribot tries to get his head around modal jazz swing on Tyner's majestic Passion Dance; another is John Scofield playing straight bebop on Mr PC and Blues on the Corner; still others are banjoist Bela Fleck's exhilarating, folk-dancing Trade Winds, and former Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks delivering a talkative sound on Slapback Blues and Greensleeves. But some of the most assured and communicative playing comes in partnerships with Bill Frisell, on Tyner's own Contemplation and a broodingly lyrical Frisell original, Boubacar. The accompanying DVD includes video of the performances.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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