McCoy Tyner | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the recording of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme--the album that, I suspect, has introduced more people to the music of McCoy Tyner than any other, including the dozens he's made under his own name. Tyner, who was 26 at the time, sounds a bit callow in retrospect (although he was hardly a rookie, having already appeared on some 25 recordings), but his galvanic style, at once massive and ornate, made him an essential complement to Coltrane's musical vision and a vital component in his historic quartet. Tyner would go on to take his place among the most influential pianists of the last four decades. Like the others--Corea, Evans, Hancock, Jarrett, Taylor--he's continued to polish and extend his original concept, delving deeper into the implications of his ideas by continually reframing them in new contexts. These include the powerful big band he brought to last year's Chicago Jazz Festival, Latin-jazz all-star groupings, breathtaking solo projects, and the trio, his preferred format for the last 30 years. The trio is indeed the ideal setting for the force of nature that is Tyner's playing, able to contain its stormiest crashes while remaining responsive to its gentlest breezes. The big news here concerns Tyner's change in personnel: he's replaced his drummer of nearly 15 years and bassist of more than 20 with, respectively, Eric Harland and Charnett Moffett, both of them strong and lively players. Whatever listeners thought of the old trio's work--and the opinions of longtime Tyner fans varied widely--the infusion of new blood can only help to refresh old material and renew Tyner's commitment to his art. Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, March 7, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

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