Broad­cast of soul

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week -

Tribute Trio: Mu­sic of McCoy Tyner, Jan. 14 Ver­non’s Jazz Club, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque The ninth in the Tribute Trio con­cert se­ries, con­ceived by jazz pro­moter Vic­to­ria Rogers, took place at Ver­non’s Jazz Club in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. For each per­for­mance, pi­anist John Ran­gel, drum­mer Cal Haines, and bassist Michael Glynn are ded­i­cat­ing them­selves to learn­ing ma­te­rial by a dif­fer­ent jazz-piano icon, each of whom is the fo­cus of a con­cert.

A sec­ondary mo­ti­va­tion for Rogers was to spread the con­certs out among dif­fer­ent venues. Ver­non’s, which opened a year and a half ago, has a fairly noisy bar, but the cozy area closer to the stage is a wor­thy jazz space — com­plete with vel­vet-lined black walls hung with paint­ings of jazz le­gends such as Duke Elling­ton and John Coltrane. The con­fig­u­ra­tion of the stage did not, how­ever, al­low the trio to or­ga­nize it­self as it usu­ally does: in an “Os­car Peter­son ar­range­ment,” with the piano po­si­tioned so the key­board is per­pen­dic­u­lar to Glynn and Haines. “This setup puts the band in close prox­im­ity to one an­other, which en­hances the dy­nam­ics of sound and in­ter­play,” Rogers said.

This con­cert’s fo­cus was McCoy Tyner, the cere­bral but force­ful pi­anist who gained renown as a mem­ber of Coltrane’s quar­tet in the early 1960s. At Ver­non’s on this Fri­day night, the mu­si­cians jumped right in with the fast­tempo “Reach­ing Fourth” from Tyner’s 1962 al­bum of the same name. The trib­u­tee was well-done in Ran­gel’s im­i­ta­tion of his char­ac­ter­is­tic, pounded, left-hand block chords and fleet, beau­ti­ful, right-hand melodies and arpeg­gios. Ran­gel was real hep­ped-up. He had to be to han­dle this in­tense stuff.

The next piece, “Mes­sage From the Nile” from the 1970 al­bum Ex­ten­sions, was slower and broader, and the trio was equally solid — it sounded like a mu­si­cal unit, with­out be­ing timid or overly care­ful. Then the group stepped up into “Four by Five,” fea­tur­ing one of Tyner’s pow­er­fully rhyth­mic heads. It’s from the 1967 al­bum The Real McCoy, and the trio played all five songs from the disc over the course of the next hour.

An­other fol­lowed: the richly emo­tional “Con­tem­pla­tion.” Printed pro­gram notes of­fered dur­ing the show noted, “The sim­ple har­monic struc­ture, with only three chords, helps to give this piece a calm and open feel­ing.”

Ran­gel re­called play­ing with the hard-bop drum­mer Billy Hig­gins in Los An­ge­les. “Billy was one of the first peo­ple who taught me about play­ing with spirit, and McCoy — when I lis­ten to him play, I don’t re­ally care what notes he’s play­ing: it’s just I feel this, like, broad­cast of soul, and the notes are just some­thing that we can tune in to.”

“Man From Tan­ganyika,” cov­ered from Tyner’s 1967 disc Ten­der Mo­ments, pre­sented a dif­fer­ent kind of chal­lenge, per­haps, be­cause the orig­i­nal was a nonet session fea­tur­ing six horn play­ers. Re­gard­less, Ran­gel did a fine job with the melody and Haines and Glynn on the peri­patetic groove.

Glynn played arco on the bal­lad “Search for Peace” be­fore the trio sidestepped into a Monk­ish char­ac­ter on “The High Pri­est,” flew beau­ti­fully on the Tyner gem “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit,” and fi­nally took the pro­ceed­ings into re­ally tran­scen­den­tal ter­ri­tory with “Pas­sion Dance.”

Still to come in the list of trib­u­tees in the Tribute Trio se­ries are Bill Evans on Feb. 20 at the United Church of Santa Fe and Her­bie Han­cock on March 12 at the his­toric San Ysidro Church in Cor­rales. A fi­nal gig at Albuquerque’s Out­post Per­for­mance Space on April 21 fea­tures new com­po­si­tions, in­spired by the se­ries com­posers, by all three play­ers.

— Paul Wei­de­man

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