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November 15, 1984 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-15

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Thursday, November 15, 1984


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By Dennis Harvey

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John Thorman, Steve Roback, and Matthew Piucci reign over the enthusiastic crowd at Joe's Tuesday night.
The musical vision of McCoy Tyner

By Marc S. Taras
T T ISN'T often that one has the oppor-
tunity to encounter a legend. McCoy
Tyner will bring his trio, his
music, and his mystique to the
Union Ballroom tonight at 8:00 p.m.
McCoy Tyner. Piano visionary. To
jazz fans and music historians the
name is synonymous with musical vir-
tuosity and power. He carries with him
a history of accolades and experience
^ that few can match. But his love affair
with the piano had tentative begin-
. { nings.
Tyner was born into a middle class
Philidelphia family on December 11,
1938. His father worked in a lab and his
mother ran a beauty parlor. She played
the piano a little bit and encouraged the
-' young McCoy to take up the instrument.
- Tyner was reluctant at first, deeming
the piano a feminine pursuit, and
favoring athletics. He finally took up
the instrument at the age of 13 and
found that after a couple of years, and
thanks to a little tender parental prod-
ding, he was hooked.
Initially he practiced on a neighbor's
piano, and as soon as his own family
bought one he began hosting jam
sessions, some of which took place in
his mother's beauty parlor. Counted
among his friends, neighbors, and
fellow players of the time were several
" people who have achieved international
recognition including trumpeter Lee
Morgan (now, alas, deceased),
' sexophonist Archie Shepp, and pianist
Bobby Timmons.
' Also at hand to aid and influence the
young lion were the brilliant pianist
Bud Powell and his brother Richie
Powell, also a pianist. Along with
Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum,
Powell was to be a major influence on
the developing Tyner. His ability to
model his playing after the styles of
these giants coupled with his own
r rapidly developing chops earned Mc-
Coy the youthful nickname 'BudMonk.'
Tyner was an apt students. At 15 he
led his first group; sort of an R&B band
that worked on popular tunes of the
day. He studied at the West
Philidelphia Music School and later
Y enrolled at the Granoff Music School.
During this period McCoy began
working nights, doing club dates with
visitng luminaries such as Sonny
Rollins and Max Roach. He became a
member of a local group led by trum-
peter Cal Massey. One evening, while
working with Massey's band at a club
called the Red Rooster history was
made. McCoy Tyner met John
Coltrane. Tyner was 17.

Coltrane was in town as a part of
Miles Davis' band and was im-
mediately impressed with the young
pianist. He avowed his desire to enlist
Tyner as a part of his own group to be
formed in the future. Trane left town
with Miles and McCoy was unable to
resist an offer to go to the West Coast
with the Art Farmer-Benny Golson
Jazztet. Tyner had been working in a
factory; the gig with the Jazztet, which
also included the fine trombonist Curtis
Fuller, represented his first regular
employment as a musician. It was a
big step, and consequently the young
Tyner was reluctant to part ways with
the Farmer-Golson group when he was
approached by Coltrane a scant six
months later. He had stayed long
enough to record with the Jazztet, but...
The decision was made, and the
group that eventually evolved, John
Coltrane's 'classic' quartet would
change the shape of jazz, and in fact,
modern music. According to Tyner, "I
knew he was someone exceptional."
Coltrane was ". .. the only person I
wanted to play with in those days."
The impact of this quartet, rounded
out by drummer Elvin Jones and, after
a few others, settling in with bassist
Jimmy Garrison, is difficult to
exaggerate. It was the musical-summit
of the mid-60's New Thing movement.
Tyner's association with the group
spanned five years from 1960-65 and in-
cluded over 20 recording dates.
During his tenure with Coltrane,
Tyner had recorded several albums of
his own. in these sessions he tried to
use a different approach than the quar-
tet, even when borrowing some of its
members. It was a question of am-
plifying his musical identity.. If nothing
else Tyner's music has always been
deeply, almost hypnotically, personal.
To dissociate himself from the quartet
("Oh yeah, McCoy Tyner. He played
with Trane.") while extending the
musical ideas he shared with his men-
tor proved to be a slow and sometimes
painful process.
He did not at first garner the atten-
tion, kudos, and gigs that he deserved.
He played occasional jobs at colleges
and was forced to record with artists
for whom his talents were not entirely
suited, such as Ike and Tina Turner.
The late 60s were hungry years for jazz
in general and the hungriest years for
McCoy Tyner in particular. At one par-
ticularly low point Tyner considered
turning to driving a taxi cab.
He resisted the electronic-fusion
wave of the late 60s and early 70s com-
miting himself to elemental acoustic
earth music (really!). Finally in 1972
things began to happen for Tyner. He

hooked up with the Fan-
tasy/Milestone/Prestige family of
labels, and with the production talents
of Orrin Keepnews. Keepnews had
worked with the likes of Thelonious
Monk and Wes Montgomery and proved
to be sympathetic to Tyner's musical
Since that time McCoy Tyner has
recorded successfully with CBS and
Elektra. His music never stays still
and there is seemingly no end of sur-
prising arrangements from this gifted
His bands have included such
brilliant players as Gary Bartz, Woody
Shaw, Al Mouzon, George Adams, and
Bennie Maupin. He has teamed up with
guest artists such as Bobby Hutcher-
son, Earl Klugh, and Flora Purim. It's

T HE RAIN Parade, who appeared
Tuesday at Joe's Star Lounge, is
probably best of all the current neo-60's
ensembles. The Three O'Clock may be
just as brilliant on a poppier level, and
the Lyres, Chesterfield Kings and Pan-
doras may strike as many sparks in the
garage category, but all those bands
essentially cater to nostalgia in a way
that the Rain Parade gracefully
The band'd set at Joe's was unfor-
tunately short but of truly expanding
impact. Fortified by a revamped
rollcall - new drummer Marc Mar-
cum, and added guitarist John Thor-
man - the Rain Parade had a suitably
near-fanatical crowd begging favors
until less than five minutes to closing.
The Parade set was a (short but) sen-
sational mix of material from their 1st
LP, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip,
the EP Explosions in the Glass Palace,
and from elsewhere. Two previously
unfamiliar songs were among the set's
highlights - one was a devastating up-
tempo number that took the band even
further in compositional complexity
than the material on Explosions (and
employedthe opening band All Fall
Down's sax player for some unob-
trusive harmonics), the other an
unashamedly pretty ballad for which
Thorman and lead David Roback ex-
changed their electric guitars for an
acoustic pair and keyboardist Will
Glenn played violin.
The songs from Third Rail were won-
derful - "This Can't Be Today,"
"Kaleidoscope" withits closing car-
nival whirl-out, and the Byrdsesque
final encore "What She's Done to Your
Mind." But it was more intriguing to
hear the material from Explosions,
much of which is sufficiently slow
(through aparently the EP was actually
pressed a bit slower than intended),
trance-ecstacy-enduring and seemingly
elaborate in productin to seem a risky
proposition for live performance.
It all worked amazingly, though.
Explosions' climactic tripout "No
Easy Way Down," surprisingly placed
in the middle of the basic set, main-
tained its heavy-reverb, slow-burning
power even without the astonishing
string arrangement of the record. The
huge-power-choral "You Are My
Friend" that leads off the EP remained
exhilerating, showing off the richness
Friday, November 16
Don Coleman, Guild House,
and David Mikethun:
"Witness of Peace in Nicaragua."
at Guild House
Homemade soup and sandwiches
available for $1.00
Swkg Tomg Kikcka
Take-out & Delivery
A KewL App,'wac&
i Ciue Fah
355 North Maple
Maple Village Shopping Center
-Mon.-Thurs. 10-9
Fri.-Sat. 10-10:30
Sunday 12-8

of the band's new three-guitar sound,
while the more downbeat ventures into
inner space, "Broken Horse" and
especially "Prisoners" were still more
impressive. A band has to be doing
something very right to keep open-
mouthed and grateful an audience ac-
customed to listening to music about
three times faster in tempo.
There's no discussing the guitar work
without degenerating into inarticulate
complimentary sighs and grunts, but
it's easy enough to say that Marc Mar-
cum is about all any band (at least this
one) could want in a drummer, and

Page 5

keyboardist Will Glenn provides frills
that lend the music much of its
playfulness and variety. The vocals in
Rain Parade aren't really "strong" as
we normally expect - the bassist (who
had some vocal-exhaustion problems
that night) has an especially airy,
colorless vocal both live and on record
- but this emotionally distanced,
almost transparent quality is in a way
perfect for their material; the music is
so expressive that a more distinctive
singing personality would take
something away from general

. 0@"

" i 0

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Alan Bird is
getting nothing he
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From Bill Forsyth, the Director/Writer
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FRI. 1:00, 7:00, 9:00,11 P.M.

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"FRI. 1:00, 7:20, 9:20, 11:1 5 P.M.

...expansions and extensions

an ever growing list of players
associated with a man whose life is (to
quote two of Tyner's LP titles) Expan-
sions and Extensions.
Tonight at the Michigan Union
BallroomMcCoy Tyner will be joined
by relative newcomer Avery Sharpe on
bass, and the wonderfully talented
rhythmacist Louis Hayes, a Detroit
native, on drums. At this point I usually
try to encourage everyone to come by
virtue of the immediacy of the music or
the integrity of the artist. No problem.
Tonight we have the genuine article.
And... dare I say it? This is the real

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See both "Metropolis" & "Choose Me"
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