Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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McCoy Tyner

  • Sama Layuca [Milestone, 1974] B+
  • 44th Street Suite [Red Baron, 1992] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sama Layuca [Milestone, 1974]
After much listening, I am not convinced that Tyner is the total pianist. True, there are more ideas per minute on his simultaneously released solo album, Echoes of a Friend, than on Keith Jarrett's Solo Concerts. But the mystical empty spaces that Jarrett explores or exploits do have an irreducible validity that a bad idea does not, and unfortunately, Tyner is not above bad ideas, especially those Tatumesque flourishes with which jazz buffs satisfy their craving for soppy romance. (Why is the rock an droll fan listening to solo piano albums at all? The rock and roll fan is not always sure himself.) But Tyner's failings, which aren't major anyway, are less egregious in an ensemble setting like this one. At its best, this music breathes with a lushness and lyricism that never cloys: the melodies and harmonies and polyrhythms are sensuous without coming on about it. Strength that never offends. B+

44th Street Suite [Red Baron, 1992]
Coltrane's soulmate plus Murray plus Blythe ("Bessie's Blues") ***