McCoy Tyner – Plays Ellington

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  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades; exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • With a lively and present piano, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding jazz records you’ve heard
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies (the ensemble being a piano trio with two percussionists, but it works!)
  • 4 stars: “An interesting project that works quite well… This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner’s debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style.”

This vintage Impulse pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with this superb group, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

It Takes Work

The true sound of the master tape Rudy Van Gelder has engineered almost never ends up on the record. If it did we’d be out of business by now. You have to work to find the good RVG pressings. When you do find one, they can be as good as any jazz recording you have ever heard.

The mid-to-late ’60s and early ’70s were a good time for Rudy Van Gelder. Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay is from 1970, Grover Washington’s All the King’s Men from 1973, and both are amazing Demo Discs in their own right, one for quintet, one for large group. But only on the right pressings, another fact that seems to have eluded most jazz vinyl aficionados and at least as many audiophiles.

What We’re Listening For on McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

  • McCoy Tyner – piano
  • Jimmy Garrison – bass
  • Elvin Jones – drums
  • Willie Rodriguez – Latin percussion
  • Johnny Pacheco – Latin percussion

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Duke’s Place 
Caravan
Solitude
Searchin

Side Two

Mr. Gentle And Mr. Cool 
Satin Doll
Gypsy Without A Song

AMG 4 Star Review

An interesting project that works quite well. The already-distinctive pianist McCoy Tyner utilized bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and two Latin percussionists to interpret a full set of Duke Ellington songs (although “Caravan” was actually composed by Juan Tizol). In addition to some well-known standards, Tyner debuted an unrecorded Ellington piece, “Searchin’,” and revived “Mr. Gentle & Mr. Cool.” This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner’s debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style.

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