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LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Audio CD, Import, Limited Edition, December 15, 2017
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A Blue Note essential, Expansions is part of the Blue Note 75 anniversary vinyl reissue campaign, featuring 100 titles. Key to the initiative is high quality audio at affordable prices. Recorded in 1968, this is Tyner's fourth Blue Note album. Also available this month on LP: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers's Moanin', The Horace Silver Quintet and The Horace Silver Trio's Blowin' The Blues Away, John Scofield's Time On My Hands, Miles Davis' Volume Two.
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I have to address one of the the other reviewers who wrote that "Vision" has a "corny funk-jazz head." This is just uninformed. "Vision" is pure sixties modal jazz. It does have a straight beat, but it certainly isn't trying to be funky. And, the solos on this tune are anything but "profoundly dull," unless by profoundly dull, you mean amazing.
As for the recording quality, it is a little fuzzier than Van Gelder's earlier stuff, but that was the fad in the late 60's early 70's. And, yes Ron Carter's arco playing leaves a lot to be desired, especially on "I Thought I'd Let You Know," but it's not enough to take away from the fact that this is a fantastic album. Highly recommended!
VISION starts out strong with a corny funk-jazz head. It's a shame that the solos are profoundly dull. Although McCoy does interesting stuff behind Woody Shaw's trumpet. Ron Carter's sickly cello is admirable insofar as it's vibrato-less. SONG OF HAPPINESS has an arhythmic preparatory bubbling-up shtick going on in it. Which convinces me that it's a take-off on the Coltrane fanfare that commences A LOVE SUPREME. There's a brilliant modulation near the end that serves as a lead-in to Wayne's solo. Unfortunately, Wayne's solo is only sporadically interesting. PERESINA is an obvious masterpiece and was rightfully included in a Tyner anthology. Wayne is as smoothadelic as ever. Those vocalized "boops" are a great touch. SMITTY'S PLACE has those unison staccato-yelps going for it and not much else. I THOUGHT I'D LET YOU KNOW is a well-chosen obscure ballad that's enjoyable precisely because of the vibrato-less sickismo of Ron Carter's cello. If Ron had slicked it up by using vibrato, he would've nauseated me with corniness. But thank God he didn't.