McCoy Tyner Trio, Damrosch park Band Shell,8/2/03
Lincoln Center Out of Doors Series.
Charnett Moffett – bass, Al Foster – drums
Packed, overflowing Damrosch Park. Good to see so many people out to hear this particular strain of American culture.
Acoustic music sounds good in a small room. The space of the room is an additional member of the band. No music sounds good in a festival setting. It’s unreasonable to expect it. The only loud thing that sounds good in a huge open space is thunder. When any music is played loudly through PA speakers outside the highs sound tinny, the mids sound flat and the lows sound muffled and boomy. You go to these concerts for the spectacle and large scale mutual appreciation, and to see how an artist handles approaching such a large audience.
The other traditional hazards of festival jazz were also firmly in place -- some tired, grumpy turf-war crowd vibes peppered in among the slightly forced excited happiness. Worst of all, though, was the fact that the musicians were playing to what they thought the crowd wanted -- relaxed accessibility.
The disappointment of comparing what you hear now with what you hear on the Coltrane records, or on Tyner’s own work from the sixties and early seventies, is fairly keen. It makes you want to go home and put on Extensions. Tyner still had a few good moments, though. Seeing him in a club is obviously a much better experience.
The high point was an oud-like Moffett bass solo built around a monochordal Arabic scale vamp. Some beautifully placed extended techniques used to develop and broaden the melodic and rhythmic content of the solo rather than to just show off the extended techniques. I remember hearing Sonny Rollins here a few years ago and the high point of the concert was also an Arabic scale based solo by Rollins. Is there something about this space that brings this out?