McCoy Tyner, Charles McPherson Feted at Jazz at Lincoln Center Performance

A tribute concert honoring the two jazz giants at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater 

By Suzanne Lorge | Down Beat Magazine | April 12, 2019

In his intro to McCoy Tyner and Charles McPherson at 80, a tribute concert honoring the two jazz giants at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on April 5 and 6, saxophonist Sherman Irby summed up pianist/composer Tyner’s distinguished career in one sentence: “McCoy Tyner has presented the world with almost six decades of pure excellence.”

From a box seat beside the stage last Friday, Tyner acknowledged both the crowd—standing for an ovation—and the 15-person ensemble about to interpret select tunes from his extensive discography. Health issues prevented Tyner from performing during concerts on both evenings, according to Zooey T. Jones​, director of public relations and external communications at JALC.

Fittingly, the orchestra opened with “Inception,” the first track on Tyner’s 1962 debut album of the same name. Two current members of the prestigious McCoy Tyner Trio—bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Joe Farnsworth—sat in. Led by these two adept musicians, the band churned through the quicksilver melody, one of Tyner’s most recognizable heads.

Drawing from Tyner’s 1968 Blue Note album Tender Moments, the orchestra next performed “Man From Tanganyika,” the pianist’s initial foray into orchestrating for horns. Arranged by JALC trombonist Chris Crenshaw, the tune ran wildly through the full range of woodwinds, from flute to trombone to tuba. Tyner “got the idea, I was told, from working with Art Blakey and the Messengers,” Irby explained. (Standout solos by JALC orchestra members Dion Tucker on trombone, Kenny Rampton on trumpet and Stefan Schatz on drums.)