Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Real McCoy Tyner

When someone uses the word “idyllic” to describe a scene, we think of Monet’s Water Lillies or another classic of impressionism — a work in summery shades that pretty much demands a daydream. But there are different kinds of idylls — as “Search For Peace,” one of five McCoy Tyner originals here, suggests. The tempo is slow, stately, deliberate. The harmony, outlined first by piano trills and broken chords, has purpose behind it: The title implies an ongoing and perhaps unattainable quest, not some easily abandoned momentary pursuit. The theme, when it arrives, enhances this sense — it’s at once solemn like a hymn, and contemplative, and also floatingly free. It puts forth an idealistic vision of what “peace” might feel like, and in the same breath holds the full awareness of possible (likely) futility. Crucially, it’s not the jingoistic sloganeering of a peace rally ; it’s a meditation on the potentiality of peace, and what it means to pursue it.
Of course “peace” as a concept meant something different on April 22, 1967 than it does today. When Tyner and his group gathered at Rudy Van Gelder’s place to record this landmark, war was raging in Vietnam and the social upheavals over civil rights, race and the fast-emerging hippie culture were simmering throughout America. The jazz community responded to this heady time in all kinds of ways — song titles became commentary, and inevitably the “heat” of the cultural moment informed recordings and performances. Tyner, who departed from the Coltrane group in 1965, evidently felt that there was a need for music that looked inward and invited reflection. In Nat Hentoff’s original liner notes, the pianist explains that when he wrote the piece, he perceived it as outlining a spiritual mission, “the giving over of the self to the universe.”
The Real McCoy is Tyner’s Blue Note debut, and though it starts in a frenzied mood with “Passion Dance,” much of it finds the pianist and composer creating zones of reflection, offering musical refuge from the tumult of the times. Tyner has said that he left the Coltrane group because of its increasingly chaotic dissonance ; his compositions here utilize the open block-chord harmonies Coltrane loved, channeled into tightly focused rhapsodies. There is a vibe of serenity in the writing, not just in the ascending theme of “Search for Peace,” but also the gentle, affirmative modal journey entitled “Contemplation” — this album contains five tunes, and two of them are riveting downtempo ballads. The other three are equally poised and thoughtful, and each is defined by its own internal logic. “Passion Dance” is an essay in rhythmic upheaval : Tyner’s spikes and Elvin Jones’ jabs establish an obstacle course, and the challenge for tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson is to navigate the shifting patterns while creating a cogent ad-libbed testimony. (Of the many Blue Note sessions featuring strong work by Henderson, this might be his shining hour, in part because of his patient impossible-to-notate inventions on “Passion Dance” and “Contemplation.”) “Four By Five” offers polyrhythmic daring in a different hue, while the entrancingly settled “Blues on the Corner,” the session’s lone blues, suggests that even this formidable group understood the importance of kicking back once in a while.
The peak statement of Tyner’s solo career, The Real McCoy is also one of a handful of recordings that define hard bop. Lots of records from this genre have interesting tunes and blazing solo performances, but few attain such an interconnected synergy. Listening to these these rich, beautifully realized atmospheres, and how they inspire deep, passionate, strikingly collective improvisations, you realize we are far removed from the anxieties — and the idealistic quests for peace — that governed 1967. That’s a mixed blessing.

Source :

McCoy Tyner
The Real McCoy


1 Passion Dance  8:44
2 Contemplation  9:10
3 Four by Five  6:33
4 Search for Peace   6:27
5 Blues on the Corner  5:58

All Compositions by McCoy Tyner


Joe Henderson - ts
McCoy Tyner - p
Ron Carter - b
Elvin Jones - dr

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey ; April 21, 1967


Scoredaddy said...

A famous disc that, for some reason, I do not have. Thanks

Nigel said...

Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson interviewed Ron Carter in 2007 for his blog Do the Math, and they discussed this album, which Ron had managed to put off listening to for about 40 years! (I guess when you're Ron Carter, "The Real McCoy" is just another day at the office).

* * * * *

EI: In the last ten years or so, we have lost three of the greatest drummers: Tony Williams, Billy Higgins, and Elvin Jones. To me they all play the beat differently, and of course you played with them all. Like you, Tony Williams seemed to push.

RC: That's not exactly right. I know why you say that, but it is because Tony Williams played anticipations all the time: in a certain mood, he would play hits that were a 16th or more ahead of the beat with a lot of frequency. That's why he sounded like he was on the top-side of the beat.

In comparison, Elvin Jones was a "downbeat player." He really played the "one."

EI: I think I have all the records with you and Elvin together. There aren't that many, just a half-dozen or so. Did you gig together more?

RC: We never played live, just in the studio.

EI: Now, to me, there is nothing more swinging than the two of you together, because you are pushing and Elvin is laying back. Like on that Pepper Adams date with Zoot Sims or The Real McCoy…

RC: You know, I just listened to The Real McCoy, maybe for the first time since I made it. I had the original album still wrapped in cellophane. (I probably should have not taken the cellophane off: I could have gotten a fortune for it on eBay.) But someone was telling me that it was one of the great records, so I took off the cellophane and listened to it.

I was taken aback. Wow! We really got to it there. I was like: let's try to get there again!

EI: How did you feel at the time it was recorded?

RC: Elvin was very headstrong. I think he had to get used to me a little bit. Now, I don't want to take this outer space, but the fact of the matter is, I play more forcefully than Jimmy Garrison did. I had a bigger sound and had more authority than Jimmy did. Elvin had to get used to it. Once he heard where I thought it was, though, there was no problem: Elvin was a consummate musician. So, in rehearsal, we agreed on a place and said, let's get this going! Yeah, The Real McCoy is a great record.

[Ed: Not all agree with Mr. Carter's assessment of the great and enormous-toned Jimmy Garrison, whose relationship with Elvin Jones and the rest of the Coltrane quartet is more profound than Mr. Carter indicates here. I have kept this uncomfortable comment in to make the suggestion of imagining how The Real McCoy would sound with Jimmy Garrison or Crescent with Ron Carter. The fact that we wouldn't want them to trade places, not even for a tune, says much to the credit of both these phenomenal bassists.]

As for Billy Higgins, if I tried to define it, I would say that Billy Higgins represents the Vernel Fournier or New Orleans style. Zigaboo Modeliste from the Meters has it too, in a different genre. They all have the same location of beat "four" to beat "one". It is so light and feathery from "four" to "one," "two" sort of takes care of itself.

EI: That's beautiful, Mr. Carter.

RC: I love drummers like Connie Kay, Kenny Clarke, and Osie Johnson. Unfortunately I never played with Kenny Clarke, but I would have loved to. These drummers sit right where I like it, not rushing or dragging, but with enough snare drum activity that the "one" doesn't feel so dominant.

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for the Tyner

jazmen said...

Thank Mel. Both files are part 1.

furnguy said...


adakun said...

Gracias Mel, ahora lo tengo con buena calidad de sonido.

AmyBRAINS said...

No jazmen, it'all right!!
Many thanks, Melanchthon.

Melanchthon said...

Pee said...

This is fantastic. The Ron Carter transcript above shows how good this album is :) Thanks, Mel!

deGallo said...

Thank you.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

bventure said...

Can't believe I don't have this, but apparently I don't, many thanks Melanchthon

Kovina Kris said...

Another super upgrade! Thank you!