Sunday, March 02, 2008

McCoy Tyner - Extensions

This record bowls me over every time I listen to it. The line-up is a dream: McCoy Tyner, piano; Alice Coltrane, harp; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax, soprano sax; Gary Bartz, alto sax; Ron Carter, acoustic bass; Elvin Jones, drums. The melodies are so left of center but still so listenable...

Four tracks, about 40 minutes of music. I'll serve up about half, focusing on the track with Alice Coltrane. Why? Let me quote a review I found on a site called "Ground and Sky":
""Message from the Nile" itself would make this a more than worthy purchase. On the one hand, its structure, like all of the remaining songs on this album excepting "His Blessings," is in the traditional jazz format: a simple and catchy main melodic line (Tyner was always great at coming up with these) forming the 'ground level' of the composition, from which the band take off and exchange a round of solos. On the other, the gentle mood concocted gives "Message from the Nile" a very non-Western, arcane touch. Heightened by the rippling of Alice Coltrane's harp, this track would have fit in quite well on one of her solo albums (e.g., Journey in Satchidananda). Tyner's solos are usually stunning displays of piano virtuosity, but I find the solo here to be particularly outstanding in its fluidity and free-spiritedness. One second he is stubbornly pecking at the main melody, contorting its rhythm or transposing it to an adjacent key, and the next minute he is flinging the notes up the upper registers of the piano and back down again in a blur of insanely rapid arpeggios...the closing piece "His Blessings" sounds the album out blissfully. It is an obvious tribute to John Coltrane, who died less than three years earlier at the time of the recording. Magma fans might note its kinship with the homage track "Coltrane Sundia" from the album Kohntarkosz. Again augmented by Coltrane's harp and the bowing of Carter's bass, this track effortlessly recreates the majesty of the Coltrane Quartet's signature wave effect: an ocean of sustained, rippling notes and chords swept along by the orchestral rumble of Jones' percussion. A work of tranquil beauty, this last track is one more reason to pick up this great disc."
Good enough for me. Enjoy.

Message from the Nile and His Blessings from Extensions by McCoy Tyner