The Jazzcat

McCoy Tyner at Catalinas Bar and Grill with Gary Bartz

by on Dec.05, 2007, under News


I just got in from Chicago

only a few hours ago and immediately I am faced with two very important

decisions. Benny Golson and McCoy Tyner both in town for their last night of

performance playing at the same time in two different parts of the city; what

is a young brotha to do? Well as tired as I am, I went to Catalinas to see

McCoy but the place was super packed. I decided to go and see Benny for the

first set and come back to see McCoy. The second set was still bombarded with

those who want to experience legendary status jazz music making.


How many years has McCoy performed at this level and

commanded such a demanding audience. You have got to think about it from his

perspective. It has to be wonderful to have such a loyal audience and at the

same time such a responsibility to give your all at each and every performance

and never disappoint those that hold you on high. But he does it, and continues

to do so as tonight the audience roars as he approaches the stage.


Gary Bartz is with the band this evening and I am sure that

this alto addition has put Los Angeles

on heightened alert! As I look around Catalinas tonight, I do not see the usual

suspects that are normally spread through out the audience. Perhaps they were

here earlier in the week but what pleases me is to see so many unfamiliar faces

paying their respects to the one of our last living legendary masters of the

music. I wish I did not have to say it like that but the fact cannot be overlooked

that those who have blessed us with their music for so many years have all been

taking flights. Every performance that we can see is an honor and a precious

memorable experience.


McCoy lays his hands on the piano and the thunderous roll

full of blossoming clusters of chords is instantaneous. The big trademark sound

that McCoy continues to command from the piano is always as impressive our

expectations. At age 69, McCoy still drives the band and gets the most from his

players. I am sure that there is a long list of cats who are standing in line

to play with McCoy and even though his bands continue to change, he still

surrounds himself with the right cats to compliment and keep the integrity of

the music.


On drums, a cat that played with McCoy back in the

seventies, Eric Gravatt is back and still as explosive and motivated as ever to

be a part of a well-oiled machine.  It

was nice to see Gerald Cannon again as he held down the rhythm providing that

deep bottom stability as well as some of his creative lyricism on bass. Gary reminds me of his

album shadows where he sports these cool shades. It is super bright up on stage

and not just because of the beaming spotlights. Gary’s brilliance on alto adds a flavor that

everyone can get locked into. McCoy is droppin’ the hammer down, as his hands

are sometimes literally twelve inches from the keys!


The tunes seem to flow in a one burner, one mid-tempo

fashion. This is the last night of a weeklong performance and the cats still

have plenty of energy to give. As time goes on, many of us jazz lovers’ worry

about how hard the road can be on our precious jazz legends. Health, wear and

tear, traveling, intense playing and socializing can all reek serious havoc on

anyone, especially those who have been doing it for decades.


McCoy has been on the top of his game for years and even

though there have been some health concerns in the past, he looks great, he is

smiling and still continues to deliver that earth shattering multi-layered

signature sound that we all have come know, love and admire. In a small club or

concert hall, a McCoy Tyner ticket is still the ticket!


LeRoy Downs

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