garybartz

McCoy Tyner ‘Expansions’

It’s worth immersing yourself into each of the records released during his remarkable, prolific, late-60s run. ‘Expansions’ finds Tyner leading a septet featuring Wayne Shorter-tenor sax/clarinet, Woody Shaw-trumpet, Gary Bartz-alto sax/flute, Ron Carter-cello, Herbie Lewis-bass, and Freddie Waits-drums. “Vision” opens the record—a high-speed modal exploration with Tyner’s left hand serving as timekeeper and taskmaster, while his right hand dances madly and melodically. A series of musical conversations unfold over the next twelve minutes, some veering into edgy territory. It’s an exciting listen, though it comes in second among the four Tyner originals here. Top slot goes to “Peresina,” which is one of my fave Tyner tunes ever. Here, Tyner establishes a compelling piano groove before launching into a beautiful solo accompanied by a subtle yet perfect horn arrangement—one has to believe that producer Duke Pearson had more than a little arranging input—leading into a classic Wayne Shorter solo. The handoff back to Tyner is like butter, and Tyner takes another solo that revels in melodic joy before it’s all over after what feels like a short ten minutes. The whole record is pretty great—Shaw never fails to deliver, and it’s interesting to hear Carter on cello, even though he’s a stronger bassist than a cellist. This is a 1985 French DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) pressing BST 84338 as part of the Cadre Rouge Audiophile series. I’ve not compared it to any other pressing, but it sounds fine to my ears, and it came with this nifty poster (photos 2 and 3). I don’t know if the poster was included with all DMM pressings or if it was a retailer-specific thing…can any other collector’s shed light on this?

Woody Shaw ‘Blackstone Legacy’

Recording for this gem occurred during this week in 1970. Inevitable comparisons to @milesdavis ‘Bitches Brew’ continue, but they ring slightly hollow to my ears. BBrew was the Big Bang of jazz/rock fusion. ‘Blackstone Legacy’ is 100% jazz through and through. The record is amped with a healthy dose of electricity via George Cables on electric piano, and the presence of some bass clarinet courtesy of the amazing Bennie Maupin, which might trick you into thinking about BBrew, but this record doesn’t have any rock music DNA at all. Instead, immerse yourself in electrified post-bop, inside/outside modal journeys that are all fairly long, with enough free elements to be surprising, challenging and engaging. Shaw and Bartz are clearly having a lot of fun playing together, and Maupin picks up both tenor sax and flute to join in as well. Standup bass duties fall to the legendary Ron Carter, while electric bass is wielded by Clint Houston who would collaborate frequently with Shaw for years to come. Houston wrote the track “Sunshowers” on Shaw’s breakout ‘Rosewood’ LP (my fave jazz record EVER) which is one its most endearing tracks. Finally, future Return to Forever drummer Lenny White just kills it on skins, hitting them with a fast, firm punch without ever overplaying. All compositions are by either Shaw or Cables. This is a first pressing on Contemporary S7627/8, stereo. Wild stuff