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 Tuesday, 24 November 2015
McCoy Tyner with Chris Potter & Josť James perform the music of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman PDF Print
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
Saturday, 08 October 2011
McCoy Tyner © Andrea Canter
McCoy Tyner will revisit the music from the classic 1963 Impulse! album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, a session that paired Coltrane with the highly underappreciated baritone crooner. Presented by SFJazz, The concert will he held at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 16th.  More than just jazz piano royalty, McCoy Tyner is an overpowering presence whose music has continued to shape the evolution of jazz since the early 1960s. His ringing, spiritually charged sound has changed little since his five-year tenure in John Coltrane’s “classic” quartet. For this performance Tyner’s trio for the event is joined by by Chris Potter, one of the most influential saxophonists of his generation andd the rising vocalist José James has embraced the formidable challenge of honoring Hartman, who passed away in 1983. A deeply soulful singer with a strong affinity for jazz, James released the acclaimed standards session For All We Know last year, cementing his status as one of the most exciting new voices on the scene.
McCoy Tyner © Andrea Canter
McCoy Tyner's aggressive, percussive, and broad style of piano playing, influenced by African and Asian modes, has been greatly influential on succeeding generations. McCoy first began to attract widespread public attention as a member of the great John Coltrane Quartet. Though that tint is cited as his most memorable affiliation, since then McCoy Tyner has been one of the most consistently innovative bandleaders and pianists of the last thirty years. His work with Coltrane, and on numerous Blue Note recording sessions in the 1960s, spawned a whole school of pianists to follow.

McCoy Tyner’s music studies began at age 13 at the Granoff School of Music, where so many Philadelphia musicians began their music education. McCoy’s first professional affiliation of note was with the Jazztet in 1959. That band was co-led by trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist Benny Golson. McCoy made his first recording on the Jazztet’s debut, Meet The Jazztet, in February, 1960. When John Coltrane was plotting his departure from the Miles Davis Quintet, he tried several musicians for his new band. Eventually he made the wise decision to hire McCoy Tyner, and the rest is musical history.

Along with McCoy, the other members of the famed Coltrane Quartet included drummer Elvin Jones and either bassists Jimmy Garrison or Reggie Workman. Together they made some of the most compelling music of the 20th century. Soon McCoy Tyner was an in-demand session pianist as well. His commanding presence at the piano found a home on numerous great recordings. McCoy became a virtual “house pianist” for the Blue Note label, recording with a who’s who of great jazz, including sessions with Donald Byrd, Grant Green, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Stanley Turrentine.... the list is auspicious.

In 1962 McCoy made his debut as a leader with Inception for the Impulse! label. After leaving the Coltrane quartet in 1965, McCoy found work in several different situations. Then in 1967 he cut The Real McCoy album for Blue Note, launching his career as a bandleader and occasional all-star sideman. What followed were six stellar recordings for Blue Note and performances with his own bands, ranging from trio to nonet. His recordings also included explorations with string quartet and voice. McCoy signed with the Milestone label in 1971, beginning yet another rich recording period. In the years since that time he has toured and recorded with numerous bands under his leadership, including his occasional big band, a powerful ensemble guaranteed to raise the roof. Always welcome on any bandstand, McCoy Tyner has continued to evolve one of the most original piano styles of the last 40 years.

Chris Potter © Andrea Canter
A world-class soloist, accomplished composer and formidable bandleader, saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. Down Beat called him "One of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet" while Jazz Times identified him as "a figure of international renown." Jazz sax elder statesman Dave Liebman called him simply, "one of the best musicians around," a sentiment shared by the readers of Down Beat in voting him second only to tenor sax great Sonny Rollins in the magazine's 2008 Readers Poll.

Born in Chicago on Jan.1, 1971, his family moved to Columbia, South Carolina when he was 3. There he started playing guitar and piano before taking up the alto saxophone at age 10, playing his first gig at 13. When piano legend Marian McPartland first heard Chris at 15 years old, she told his father that Chris was ready for the road with a unit such as Woody Herman’s band, but finishing school was a priority. At age 18, Potter moved to New York to study at the New School and Manhattan School of Music, while also immersing himself in New York’s jazz scene and beginning his lifelong path as a professional musician.

Since bursting onto the New York scene in 1989 as an 18-year-old prodigy with bebop icon Red Rodney (who himself had played as a young man alongside the legendary Charlie Parker), Potter has steered a steady course of growth as an instrumentalist and composer-arranger. Through the '90s, he continued to gain invaluable bandstand experience as a sideman while also making strong statements as a bandleader-composer-arranger. Acclaimed outings like 1997’s Unspoken (with bassist and mentor Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and guitarist John Scofield), 1998’s Vertigo, 2001’s Gratitude and 2002’s Traveling Mercies showed a penchant for risk-taking and genre-bending.

A potent improvisor and the youngest musician ever to win Denmark's Jazzpar Prize, Potter's impressive discography includes 15 albums as a leader and sideman appearances on over 100 albums. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his solo work on "In Vogue," a track from Joanne Brackeen’s 1999 album Pink Elephant Magic, and was prominently featured on Steely Dan’s Grammy-winning album from 2000, Two Against Nature. He has performed or recorded with many of the leading names in jazz, such as Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, John Scofield, the Mingus Big Band, Jim Hall, Paul Motian, Dave Douglas, Ray Brown and many others.

His most recent recording, Ultrahang, is the culmination thus far of five years’ work with his Underground quartet with Adam Rogers on guitar, Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes, and Nate Smith on drums. Recorded in the studio in January 2009 after extensive touring, it showcases the band at its freewheeling yet cohesive best.

Josť James © Andrea Canter
Born and raised in Minneapolis, José James came of age with the sounds of Prince, hip-hop and Modern jazz. Discovering an early passion for both music and creative writing, José combined these through performance – singing jazz standards, originals, and the works of John Coltrane with his quartet throughout the Twin Cites. After moving to New York City to attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, he was mentored by and recorded with both the legendary drummer Chico Hamilton and the pianist Junior Mance. There he also met his first ensemble that would form the studio and international touring band for his 2008 debut album “The Dreamer” (Jan 2008, Brownswood), which was voted #21 Critic’s Pick of JazzTimes Top 50 Jazz Albums of 2008.

James’s third studio album “For All We Know” (May 2010, Impulse!) was released on the legendary “Impulse!” label, home to many of John Coltrane’s masterworks. Largely recorded in a single day at the famed Galaxy Studios in Belguim, “For All We Know” is a deep and timeless duo album of jazz standards featuring Jef Neve on piano.

Winner of both the Edison Award and L’Académie du Jazz Grand Prix for best Vocal Jazz Album of 2010, “For All We Know” was James’s most intimate project to date, with performances in premiere concert halls such as L’Olympia, Royal Festival Hall, and De Roma, as well venues such as the Umbria Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Cotton Club Tokyo.

The collaboration between James and Jef Neve continued with an ambitious ongoing live project “Facing East: The Music of John Coltrane.” Conceived and directed by James “Facing East” made its worldwide debut at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, and continued on to venues such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Nice Jazz Festival, New Morning, and Ronnie Scott’s.  James was recently voted 2011 DownBeat Critics Poll “Rising Star Best Male Vocalist” and is currently working on his fourth studio album “No Beginning, No End.”

The Herbst Theatre is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

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