Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

McCoy Tyner Septet, at the Barbican

Posted February 27, 2007

McCoy Tyner

Ticked off one of my life’s great missions: to finally get to see McCoy Tyner play live. I’ve missed the opportunity quite a few times, but he’s so important to me as a musician (what with the fact that he played on A Love Supreme for a start). Anyway, got a good seat to the performance, Barbican was ok… Last time (first time) I went there was to see Wayne Shorter at last year’s London Jazz Festival, and the sound was terrible. A bit better this time, but could still do with some work…

Anyway, enough about irrelevant technicalities, it was McCoy Tyner, omg!!!!11!!!1!!! The gig was some sort of tie-in to the Impulse records birthday thing that’s been going on for, what, quite a while now (??) inasmuch as: it was the McCoy Tyner trio, with the septet coming in to play a few ‘classic’ Impulse records tracks at the end…

The gig started with Tyner and his trio (or, his duo which, with Tyner, makes three). This was Gerald Cannon, bass, and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums. They were both really wicked… Cannon in particular played great bass, I want to try and check him out elsewhere… Tyner was as amazing as I had expected, really!…

After about three tunes, and roughly thirty minutes, Tyner decided that that was enough, and called an end to the first set. Which most people (including the bassist and drummer) thought was a bit weird, especially since they’d only just got really into it… So, after the interval, the trio came back for a few more pieces.

Later on, and just as the trio format was beginning to get a little boring (as I always find they do) they were joined by Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Steve Turre (trombone), Jason Yarde (alto sax), and Byron Wallen (trumpet) for the Impulse Records Experience (or whatever it was called)… This was where things began to fall down, really. I got the impression that these four had been brought together by Serious (the promoters) as a sort of Anglo-American novelty, or at least, as a novel line-up that Tyner hadn’t had the ‘opportunity’ to play with before; according to the programme only Turre had played with Tyner, previously (in his Afro-Cuban Allstars). I think that was something of a mistake. (In any case.) The thing looked really unrehearsed (the front-line would wander miles off stage whenever there was a solo going on, and then no-one would really be sure when it was time to wander back to the mikes to get round to playing the heads again). And the solos themselves were pretty uninspired and clumsy, as though it was the first time that any of them had actually played these tunes (perhaps they’d all been given an opportunity to read through the scores in the hotel room). Anyway, surfice it to say, the septet pieces were pretty disappointing. When the trio (inc. Tyner) came through it went all cool again, but they really needed to have got a better band together because it actually ruined the evening… Not appalling, just that I came away thinking ‘so-so’, when it could have been so much more fantastic if they’d tried…

PS. Post photo nicked from mccoytyner.com. Photo by Gene Martin.

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