Mccoy Tyner Trio

No big surprises here: when you go to hear one of jazz’s most recorded pianists–and, not incidentally, one of the half dozen most influential pianists of the last 35 years–you probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Not that McCoy Tyner has remained stagnant since his major-league debut with the Jazztet in 1959 and his burst into prominence in John Coltrane’s monumental quartet of the 60s. His forceful and hyperkinetic attack–which has always reminded us that the piano is, by design, a percussion instrument–reached an apotheosis of pointillism in the late 70s, after which he began to step back from that particular brink. In the last 15 years his music has encompassed a greater range of emotion. Even on his most recent recording, the hard-edged Infinity (Impulse)–a partial homage to Coltrane that garnered two Grammys in last month’s awards–you can’t help but notice the maturity and reflection in Tyner’s playing. But this shouldn’t suggest that Tyner has retained a vibrant flair for novelty and experimentation. The trio he brings to town is in its eighth year, and more than a few listeners have wondered about Avery Sharpe’s bass work (weak solos, artificial-sounding tone) and Aaron Scott’s drumming (which often fails to engage any noticeable onstage interaction). Tyner himself runs the risk of simply relaxing into the familiar rhythmic cushion his sidemen place at his feet. It says much about his musicianship and dedication that he still summons the energy to regularly explore the piano and so effectively showcase his sparkling, oceanic, pulsar approach to jazz. The durability of this style ensures that Tyner’s sets, even if predictable, are rarely dull. Meanwhile, the artistic success of Infinity, on which he collaborated with saxist Michael Brecker, attests to Tyner’s musical potency. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, April 7, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 670-2473. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.