JazzTimes - p.94
"[I]n terms of playing quality, thematic variety and expressiveness it's about as good as it gets in the current marketplace....Anyone who's seen McCoy Tyner in concert the past couple of years knows he's still playing fierce, uncompromising and delightful music."
Personnel: McCoy Tyner (piano); McCoy Tyner; Christian McBride (bass instrument); Gary Bartz (saxophone); Terence Blanchard (trumpet); Lewis Nash (drums).
Recording information: Studio A, Avatar Studios, New York, NY (11/18/2003/11/19/2003).
Editor: Paul Blakemore.
Illustrator: Clifford Alejandro.
Photographer: Jack Renner.
ILLUMINATIONS finds McCoy Tyner, some 40 years after his best-known work (as a member of John Coltrane's legendary early-1960s quartet), still kicking. Tyner's energies as a session leader, composer, and ever-progressive musician haven't flagged since the mid-'60's, when the pianist started heading his own dates. On this 2004 album, as per usual, Tyner has surrounded himself with some of the finest personnel in jazz, including bassist Christian McBride, sax player Gary Bartz, and trumpeter Terence Blanchard.
Tyner's music is appealing for its balance of familiar hard-bop vocabulary and intricately wrought structures--it is rhythmic and accessible, yet intellectually engaging. Tyner plays with great vigor, mixing virtuoso classical flourishes with bold chords and dazzlingly complex solos. His compositions here touch on avant-bebop ("The Chase"), Latin groove ("Angelina"), and smooth swing (the title track--on which all the musicians get a chance to stretch out). Blanchard's playing is especially notable, substantiating the melody lines in the chorus and blazing on the solos (as on "New Orleans Stomp," driven by a classic second-line beat). The high quality of music here--in conception and execution--should come as no surprise to long-time fans of Tyner or his sidemen.