MCCOY TYNER — Inner Voices (review)

MCCOY TYNER — Inner Voices album cover Album · 1977 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Sean Trane
One of the rare 60’s jazz hero that knew no hardship or “baisse de régime” during the 70’s is Tyner, who kept on exploring new avenues with incredible success (if only artistic), and this late-77 release (on the now-usual Milestones label)is no exception. As one might guess from the album title, this one is a vocal affair, which is rather unusual for the man and his crowd around him. Don’t get me wrong, this is no crooner album, as the voices of the innerside are a 7-member choir, including 6 women. Recorded in Hendrix’ Electric Lady studio in Sept, the sessions sees Ron Carter on electric bass, Earl Klugh on acoustic guitar, and the drum stool is shared by Eric Gravatt and JDJ.

Opening on For Tomorrow, where Tyner is alone with Carter’s electric bass facing an awesome wordless and aerial (dare I say celestal) choir and you’d have to have a solid bad faith not to be enthused by the early turning of the album. The following Uptown is the only instrumental number, but the choirs are replaced by an extended horn section (four trumpets, four trombones, and four saxes), Klugh’s acoustic guitar and Gravatt’s powerful drumming. Rotunda features more or less the same formula (but with Dejohnette on drums) but the horn section is replaced by the scatting choirs appearing on the opening track.

The flipside features two lengthier tracks, starting with Gravatt drumming up a storm and both the horn and choir are alternatively taking it up another gear, and we’re close to 100 MPH, especially when the two join forces. However fine the trombone and solos are, they’re not really living up to the track’s light-speed cadence, but it’s nothing worth really outlining (consider I didn’t ;o)). The closing Bahia Festival sees JDJ getting the help of Brazilian percussionist Franco, and despite a slow and calm intro with Tyner’s ever-so-charming piano, once Klugh’s guitar and Franco’s congas open the “hostilities”, there is no stopping the bans, with the horn section members relaying in short solos (trumpets mainly) and answer the celestial choir.

Another typically unique album, Inner Voices sits apart in Tyner’s discography, because of his use of the choir. Don’t be afraid at all though (but don’t expect to hear the old Trane Tyner either), unless you’re allergic to wordless/scat vocals. This is an absolutely awesome album, unique in its genre (to my knowledge anyway) under that form, and that Inner Voice of toyrs will not let you down if it tells you “shoot”.
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