June 17, 2024

McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner and the Latin All-Stars
(Telarc Jazz)
by Fred Jung

For those of us who were chagrined that McCoy Tyner did a whole album devoted to Burt Bacharach tunes, the pianist redeems himself with McCoy Tyner and the Latin All-Stars. With a truly all-star cast–Johnny Almendra on timbales, Gary Bartz on saxophones, Ignacio Berroa on drums, Giovanni Hidalgo on percussion, Claudio Roditi on trumpet, Avery Sharpe on bass, Steve Turre on trombone, and Dave Valentin on flute, McCoy Tyner and the Latin All-Stars is a collection of seven selections from Tyner’s small Latin-ensemble that has been touring around the States, most recently at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

An Afro-Cuban “Poinciana” has a focused Tyner laying down the familiar Ahmad Jamal melody against a percussive background. Tyner’s dancing piano lines hark back to vintage Tyner, before LiPuma took him back to the Stone Age. “A Song for Love,” a Tyner original is a fine illustration of the pianist’s mastery of his instrument, accompanying Roditi with articulate quotes. “La Habana Sol” is a vehicle for Hidalgo and Almendra to their vibrant intensity. The two percussionists glow in the dark, banging away in front of the band or behind a confident Turre or the impeccable Bartz. There’s the John Coltrane side of Tyner and the Latin side, which this Telarc recording promptly displays. Both are vastly different stylistically, showing why Tyner is one of the most influential pianists today. We’ll just forget about that whole Bacharach fiasco.

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