Thursday, January 3, 2008
Single artist record label retrospectives are only as strong as the original albums from which the collection is culled. The new compilation of pianist McCoy Tyner’s work on Telarc includes eight tracks from the five CDs they released.
Two tracks each from Jazz Roots and With Stanley Clarke and Al Foster are included, with the best work being the Clarke/Foster session. The three musicians not only swing hard, their musical sympathy appears effortless. Tyner, who came to prominence with John Coltrane, worked unaccompanied on Roots, and even though it’s good, he’s still better when pressed by a rhythm section.
Tyner’s best Telarc recordings, In The Land Of Giants and Illuminations, contain only one cut each. Giants, his best with Telarc, featured tight quartet arrangements and the quintet and compositions on Illuminations are reminiscent of his great Blue Note albums.
Tyner’s only Telarc misstep was Latin All-Stars. The two cuts included demonstrate Tyner’s inability to form a unique voice within overwrought arrangements.