“Sometimes, you know, we have a tendency to put a person in a little bit of a niche and expect him to stay there,” says jazz legend McCoy Tyner. “But as an artist, you might want to change or do something different. I do all the time. Just call me a guy who bounces around,” he laughs. Although the great pianist will forever be associated with the heightened modal energy kicked up during the ’60s with the fabled John Coltrane quartet, he has explored a myriad of musical avenues over the past 30 years and continues to do so with impunity. His pianist signatures may remain intact—the forceful left hand, the cascading right hand with intervals of fourths, the bluesy tendencies—but the playing field is ever-changing.
Consider his last few recordings. In 1996, Tyner unleashed with pent-up fury on Infinity (Impulse!), a Grammy Award-winning project with his longtime trio of bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Aaron Scott augmented by tenor sax titan Michael Brecker. In 1997, he did an about-face by immersing himself in the romantic music of Burt Bacharach on What the World Needs Now (Impulse!), a lush orchestral outing with ambitious arrangements by bassist John Clayton. The following year Tyner took another left turn, delving into a salsafied bag with the smoking McCoy Tyner and the Latin All-Stars (Telarc). And now he joins forces with a world-class rhythm tandem for a stripped-down, highly interactive trio session on McCoy Tyner with Stanley Clarke and Al Foster (Telarc).