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April 05, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-04-05

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;Tho Michigan Daily

ARTS

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Page 8

Thursday, April 5, 1990

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He's the real McCoy

of jazz

h- pnfat -r - nflmr

o~y razor aIIapiro

AFTER playing for one year in
Benny Golson's Jazztet, McCoy
Tyner became a member of the
greatest jazz band ever assembled.
The John Coltrane Quartet, consist-
ing of 'Trane on saxes, Tyner on pi-
ano, Elvin Jones on drums and
Jimmy Garrison on bass, re-invented
jazz between 1960 and 1965 and sed-
imented itself so strongly in the jazz
tradition that everything since has
borne this music's indelible stamp.
Whereas gospel expresses the
hope that redemption will come in
the future, the quartet's music was
an expression of spirituality in the
present. The music strove to find a
higher meaning in senseless events
(like the deaths of five young chil-
;dren in Alabama) while still depict-
ing a pious devotion to God, Allah
s nd Jah. A Muslim since age 18,
Tyner's faith fit in perfectly with
:oltrane's questing vision.
The group's music consisted
mostly of long extended improvisa-
tions based on Ornette Coleman's
free jazz. Along with Cecil Taylor,
Tyner was the piano pioneer within
this unstructured form. His style is
deeply rooted in the short, soulful
blue note runs that Horace Silver in-
jected into the intellectual bebop
formula and heavily percussive "key

banging" that seemed to ignore
melodic structure altogether.
Although it is quite ironic that
these two distinctly earthy styles
would come together in a musician
who plays such ethereal jazz, this
style allowed him to play with
passionate chaos in his exploding
chordal comping behind Coltrane's
soaring solos. This tension was
finally resolved with delicate single-
note glides across the keyboard that
made the beauty residing in disorder
and turmoil the concluding message
of the piece.
When Tyner left the group his
music continued along the same
path. He explored the possibilities of
the dulcimer and jazz based on
Japanese folk songs, but his spiritu-
ality remained at the core and his
musical vision unchanged. His al-
bums on Milestone in the early '70s
provide the best examples of his
playing since Coltrane. With intense
songs based on heavy rhythmic pat-
terns and subtle ballad interpreta-
tions, Tyner proves himself to be
the most exciting and innovative pi-
anist since Thelonious Monk and
Bud Powell.
MCCOY TYNER plays at The Ark,
6371/2 S. Main, tonight at 8 and 10
p.m. Tickets are $16 and are avail-
able at the Union.

wr

Don Pasquale tells
operatic tale of greed
by Sherrill L. Bennett
GAETANO Donizetti was born in 1798 to a poor family. His father's
meager earnings from janitorial work had to feed and clothe six children.
But from this impoverished environment grew a composer whose output
includes a stammering 60-plus operas. Among them are the famous Anna
Bolena (1830), Lucia Di Lammermoor (1835) and L'Elisir D'Amore
(1832), which was performed last spring in Ann Arbor by the Comic
Opera Guild. Tonight, the University School of Music Opera Theatre will
perform another of Donizetti's comic operas at the Mendelssohn Theatre.
Don Pasquale is the story of a rich miser who falls into a trap set by his
own greed.
"It's the kind of story and music that transcends any period," says
Martin Katz, chair of the accompanying and chamber music programs at
the School of Music and conductor of the production. "It could have
happened in the cavemen's time, tomorrow or 1920 or '30." The 1920s
theme was chosen by Katz and internationally acclaimed director Travis
Preston for their production. Essentially, they have placed Donizetti's
opera of 1843 in a time warp; the opera is updated, but the vintage charm
and authenticity remains intact.
Preston and Katz both have active careers in the theater. Preston's
work, including premieres at the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American
Repertory Theatre and several productions in Europe, has earned him a
solid reputation in his field. Katz, in addiction to recording for Decca,
Philips, CBS and RCA, has accompanied some of the most celebrated
voices in recent history, including Marilyn Horne, Fredrica von Strade and
Kathleen Battle. Experienced costume designer Laura Crow will contribute
her talents in period attire to this new production as well.
"There's no fool like an old fool," says Katz about the opera's moral
message. Don Pasquale, a greedy, wealthy miser, schemes a way out of
leaving his fortune to his nephew. With the help of his dear friend the
Doctor, Pasquale decides to wed the nephew to a woman the nephew does
not love. But the Doctor is also a friend of the nephew, and the two get
Pasquale to marry a young, alluring beauty, the nephew's true love. After
a counterfeit ceremony, the young girl begins to squander Pasquale's
fortune. Furious, he turns his energies to dismissing this wretch from his
life. The twisting plot is interwoven with a multicolored musical fabric -
witty, spirited and sentimental. The orchestration is brilliant and robust
and the tunes are alternately romantic and hilarious.
This production of Don Pasquale will be sung as it was originally
conceived, in Italian. There will be English supertitles so that nobody will
miss a single line of Donizetti's inventive humor.
DON PASQUALE will be performed in the Mendelssohn Theatre in the
League tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $Sfor students, $7 and $10 for all others and are available at
the League Ticket Office.

0.

McCoy Tyner has tickled the ivories for Benny Golson's Jazztet and the
legendary John Coltrane Quartet. Now he's playing his intense style of
jazz piano on his own.

They Might Be Giants
Flood
Elektra
They Might Be Giants, the neato
duo of cool geeks named John
(Flansburgh and Linnel), return with
a :sober outlook for their third LP.
Best known for their rather absurd,
"eird songs that for any other band
wuld be regarded as throwaway
Ailer, TMBG has carved a niche for
;heir accessible stupidity. Their al-
fnins, chock-full off songs (19 on
thes outing), display their prolific
songwriting (300 songs by 1987),
wiLich also has an immediate outlet
on- their Dial-A-Song answering
machine. No 900 numbers at $2 for
Id first minute - just call the tape
Ot changes daily) at the cost of a

phone call to Brooklyn (It's (718)
387-6982).
Past albums combined their
unusual instrumentation (accordion,
homemade rhythm tracks, guitar)
with lyrics about mundane subjects
(puppet heads, detectives, folk fami-
lies, etc.). The songs seem to make
people want to dance in stupid ways,
like when they were six and wanted
to start their own bands. Pseudo-
clich6s with highly satiric overtones
remain upbeat and positive - songs
the entire family can enjoy together
when going on car vacations. This
album's cynical, noir-funny words
oppose the still way-nifty sound.
The album only drags as a whole be-
cause of its overall negativity and
sheer number of songs, but if one
doesn't listen to it all at once, Flood

is much more digestible.
With a real drummer, the two
Johns cover being dumped
("Twisting," "Lucky Ball and
Chain," "Letterbox") and say dis-
turbingly negative things like "Now
it's over, I'm dead and I haven't done
anything that I want or, I'm still
alive and there's nothing I want to
do" (from "Dead"), and "Because I'm
not as messed up as I want to be"
(from "Hearing Aid"). They haven't
lost their sense of humor but instead
channel much musical energy into
displaying pain in a cynical fashion.
Statements such as "Everybody
wants prosthetic foreheads on their
real heads" ("We Want a Rock") and
"Fondue forks for everybody" ("Hot
Cha") lighten the dark tones, making
the album work.

Flood shines on the Johns' ec-
centricities, as expressed in songs
like "Theme from Flood," "Istanbul
(not Constantinople)," and
"Twisting." "Theme" reeks with all
the ambiance of the opening of a
commercial car show, like models
slowly pulling the curtain back to
display the shiny new car. Even
though they have tons of their own
songs they cover "Istanbul" anyway,
doing so in an amusing fashion.
"Twisting," a nod to '60s music
similar to John Cougar
Mellencamp's "Rock in the
U.S.A.," parodies the decade with
the classic girl-dumping-him story
and name-drops good bands along the
way.
Maybe the uplifting experience of
being roadies for the Replacements

has worn off, or their lives sucked
when they made this record.
Whatever the case, the negative shit
wears thin by the end when, luckily,
these guys save themselves by mix-
ing in some positive sarcasm.
Flood continues TMBG's own
kitschy vein in this respectable third
release.
-Annette Petrusso

John Wesley Harding
Here Comes The Groom

c'

Reprise
Among the liner notes and pro
duction credits of John Wesley Hard
ing's debut album is a note from the'
artist detailing the evolution of the
album and enumerating its many
See RECORDS, page 9$t

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BAR
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