Quartet marks a new phase in McCoy Tyner s illustrious career. The album, recorded live on New Year s Eve 2006 with tenor titan Joe Lovano, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Jeff Tain Watts, is both a retrospective and a projective piece. While it features some of the compositions that have shaped Tyner s career, the album is a launch for Tyner s new label, McCoy Tyner Music, and will be the first among a series of three recordings that will be released within the next year.
Just over two years ago, Tyner was taken on as the first client of Blue Note Management, a division of the Blue Note Jazz Club. The success of this partnership lead to this release, which will be on the McCoy Tyner Music (MTM) label, created for him as an imprint of the Blue Note s in-house record label, Half Note Records. Upon listening, it is immediately apparent that Quartet features a working band and not just a gathering of four all-star musicians. Additionally, the record shows that Tyner, who now carries the torch as the only surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet, is still at the top of his game as a composer, performer, and bandleader.
McCoy Tyner's work with the John Coltrane Quartet is well documented, and this CD marks a welcome return to that format. Recorded live at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, over New Year's, Joe Lovano does the honors in the tenor sax chair, while bassist Christian McBride and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts hold the rhythm section together with honor, passion, and drive. The world-class bassist and drummer, usually known for their overt showmanship and over the top chops, show remarkable restraint and sensitivity throughout. Tyner and friends play several of his original compositions, well-known and revered over the years. Lovano sounds, eerily enough, like Pharoah Sanders, employing a slightly staggered expansive vibrato on "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit," while using a more haunting stance à la Coltrane for "Mellow Minor," a new modern mainstream tune. Sounding more like himself, Lovano and the group join a loping desert caravan for the beautiful "Sama Layuca," with Lovano playing the part originally written for flute. They rip through "Passion Dance" and melt abject militarism during the poignant ballad "Search for Peace." Tyner, in character, utilizes a minimalist palette to extrapolate on improvisationally during his solos. After reported health problems, it is good to hear he is sounding quite inspired and energetic during the entire date. The happy song "Blues on the Corner" further cements his upbeat demeanor, while the finale/solo standard "For All We Know" is truly the real McCoy, replete with the many flourishes, dynamism, and harmonic colorations that distinguish him from all others. In many ways this is a remarkable date, a well-paced program with all the pieces (save "For All We Know") timed at around ten minutes, proof positive that Tyner's game is still very much on, and hovering at a very high level. --Michael G. Nastos - All Music Guide