Friday, December 29, 2006

Year End Jazz

McCoy Tyner
If you don’t have your tickets already you are probably out of luck; however, the concert featuring McCoy Tyner on piano, Joe Lovano on sax, Christian McBride on bass, and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums, will be broadcast from Yoshi’s in a national broadcast on National Public Radio, Saturday-Sunday, December 31-January 1, for the New Year’s Eve. Count Down, on 88.5 FM. If you want to try your luck call (510) 238-9200 or visit

Thursday evening, Dec. 28, the 10 p.m. show was packed as in knees touching and toe kissing with strangers, but all this was forgotten when Tyner walked onto the stage. A little thinner, he leaned on the bannister as he mounted the steps, but once the maestro sat down it was immediately evident to all that he was still in charge!

The last set began with two originals: Fly with the Wind and Passion Dance. Jeff Chambers was sitting in for the absent Christian McBride who flew to New York for the James Brown viewing and memorial, yet after an initial surprise double-take on my part, Chambers was certainly the man, but then everyone was playing as if their lives depended on it....the power and the intensity palatable from all present: Joe Lovano on tenor sax and Jeff "Tain" Watts, not withstanding. It was great seeing the men sustain such an elevated performance from start fo finish, Tyner at times sitting back checking the guys out, he and Watts sharing a special smile often as Watts time and time again matched Tyners' fingers stroke for stroke on his drums -- then again on many occasions so did Chambers who midway through the set walked back in after a stunning Lovano solo to an impromptu gospel blusey number created on the spot.

I love it when Tyner does this.

Coltrane's Mr. PC for "Paul Lawrence Dunbar Chambers Jr.," (bassist), was another evening highlight, as was the lovely "Angelina," which more than any other song that set illustrated the composers' incorporation of the classical idiom in the jazz format...if there is a difference. Mellow Tone, a Duke Ellignton piece, closed the set.

Some audience members said they hadn't heard Tyner so funky before which I thought was funny considering the pianist's Philly roots, roots he shares with bassist Christian McBride.

Seated at a table with two drummers and another reporter, we were all humming the tunes in our heads, yet between us could only name a couple. Tyner's like that, we know him, and then again...we don't. Visit


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