McCoy Tyner : Afro Blue

No doubt we have been spoiled by the jazz reissue era in which we live. A reissue project should come in a box. There should be unreleased tracks and alternate takes. We expect voluminous discographical and technical data, and new liner notes reassessing the place in history of the artist and the music at hand.

Afro Blue is none of the above. It is eight tracks from the five albums that McCoy Tyner made for the Telarc label between 1999 and 2004. It looks more like a promotional sampler than an album for sale.

Because this is a Tyner collection, there is worthy music. The sidemen (e.g., Terence Blanchard, Gary Bartz, Steve Turre, Christian McBride, Lewis Nash) are world-class. The extravagantly flowing, cresting and receding solo piano versions of “Summertime” and “You Taught My Heart To Sing” are especially nice to hear again. But the best way to experience McCoy Tyner is not to shuttle between quintets and trios and Latin big bands and solo piano. This compilation was presumably intended as a quick introduction to Tyner for the jazz neophyte, but a single, complete, unified album would serve that purpose better. Like, say, Enlightenment, on Milestone.