Monday, February 21, 2005
McCoy Tyner: Asante.
Deep into the celebration of Black History Month at HurdAudio tonight I've applied ears to Asante from 1970 by McCoy Tyner.
The opening two tracks of Asante ("Malika" and "Asante") present an open, spiritually infused texture. The percussion of Mtume with the drumming of Billy Hart and the worldless vocals of Songai combine with the surprisingly spare use of Tyner's on piano sound like a breath of sincere prayer and a meditation on African roots. This is an expression of spirituality full of love and devoid of preachiness. These two track serve as an invocation for what follows.
"Goin' Home" kicks in a solid and appealing groove that pulls the ears back down from the otherworldly opening to the tangible pleasures of pulse and melody. Herbie Lewis's bass work really shines on this track. This is the sound that I know, love and identify with McCoy Tyner. "Fulfillment" continues along this train of thought and kicks the melodic motion up several notches. These are energetic, smart compositions with plenty of piano and Tyner's characteristic stacked fourths voicings and percussive approach. I actually wish the microphone was closer to the piano as there's a lot of power in Tyner's sound that didn't get completely captured on this recording. Massive waves of sound have to have been rolling out of that piano and washing over in a haze of ringing harmonics. "Forbidden Land" then encapsulates the Asante experience with a spatial opening leading into some tight grooves. "Asian Lullaby" and "Hope" showcase conclude this listening experience in an uptempo wash of high caliber piano jazz.
McCoy Tyner has a rich melodic sensibility. Grounded within the ear-catching solos and percussive approach is a steady flow of melodic lines that seem to soar and allude to an individuality rooted in his personal association with John Coltrane while retaining an individual voice apart from it. These melodic lines seem to take flight and glide over the suspended harmonies that support them. "Hope" strikes the optimistic tone of an artist confident in his personal voice. As a listening experience, Asante is a journey at times reflective, world-weary and positive.