Time For Tyner (180gm analogue Tone Poet)
Format: LP, Vinyl
McCoy Tyner’s 1968 Blue Note album Time For Tyner sees a luxury reissue package on the Tone Poet Series, featuring a gatefold tip-on sleeve and a remastering from the original analogue tapes from Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio. It was recorded in May 1968 at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, although the session seems to have been produced by Duke Pearson rather than namesake Rudy. A quartet set up, it features Tyner on piano, bassist Herbert Lewis, drummer Freddie Waits and melodic percussionist Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone and marimba, who had recorded an album as a leader with Tyner on keys a few years prior in 1966 on Stick Up. The two would maintain a musical bond throughout their careers, Hutcherson featuring on numerous Tyner albums on Milestone and Columbia during the 1970s. Their synergy in 1968 is fresh and vital, the music showcasing their highly skilled and idiosyncratic techniques: Hutcherson’s fluttering and delicately poised inflections sound like stones skimming off the surface of Tyners ocean of sound; deep blue chords phrased rigidly and with the most dramatic and emotional resonances. The group is, in effect, a total rhythm section, with three instruments out of four sitting comfortably within the bracket of percussion (keys, vibraphone and drums). With upright bass being a rhythm instrument, this heightened rhythmicality is audible throughout the set, although it doesn’t detract from the expansive use of melody.
Set opener African Village is a lyrical tune in three overlaid with the metallic canopy of Hutcherson’s vibes against powerful and introspective modal explorations from Tyner across the keyboard, alongside a touch sensitive rhythm section whose cooperation is as fluent as the convergence of two streams into a river. Little Madiba is a groovy number with a flat, latinised swing, Tyner’s nimble-fingered brilliance attracting the most obvious attention. On the B side, Tyner stretches out a standard with a trio version of Surrey With The Fringe On Top—taken from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma and notably performed by Ahmad Jamal and Miles Davis—challenging the melodic boundaries of the song with his inventive, hyper melodic and modal structures. This is as close as the album comes to hard bop, a heavy swing accenting the pace of the song while a walking bassline creates a woody and taught sense of urgency. Overall, a dazzling body of work from Tyner at an exciting stage in his career, heading in his own direction after the passing of John Coltrane one year earlier, Tyner having served as a mainstay in his group with the likes of Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones. Tyner’s fire and courage as a player are audible here, his expertise in coming up with inventive ideas over modal vamps clear, while Hutcherson is in fine fettle, a name so synonymous with high quality music that his inclusion alone should be merited with high esteem. One of the finest, yet unexpected, Tone Poet Series reissues.