the legends honor mccoy at summerstage, central park - NYC, June 4

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas
  • This article was also published in Portuguese on Magazine

SummerStage, the largest free performing arts festival in New York City, in association with the Blue Note Jazz Festival, had one of its apogees on Saturday, June 4, with a concert to honor the fabulous 77-year-old pianist, McCoy Tyner.
The event, entitled 'The Legends Honor McCoy' took place at the Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield, and attracted avid enthusiasts of all ages, who gathered to see some of the living jazz legends in action.

The preeminent Ron Carter, the ambassador of the jazz bassists, played with his quartet: Renee Rosnes on piano, Payton Crossley on drums, and Rolando Morales-Matos on percussion.
They opened with a long medley that combined bossa nova/samba flavors, empathic bop, and glowing modal music. A few tunes were clearly identifiable, such as Miles Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches” and “7 Steps to Heaven”, and Luiz Bonfa’s “Samba de Orfeu”, in which Carter delighted us with his innate slides and grooves during an expressive bass solo.
“My Funny Valentine” brought the first raindrops, anticipating the arrival of the awaited trumpeter Wallace Roney, who had the opportunity to shine in a couple of classics: “Billie’s Bounce” and “Bye Bye Blackbird”.

The menace of hard rain became real and the dark sky resolved to pour all its water on us, chasing away a great part of the attendants. Only the brave resisted and felt grateful for the cheerfulness and incredible pace of the drummer Roy Haynes who, at the age of 91, also presented us with an entertaining number of tap dancing. His longtime band 'Fountain of Youth' comprises Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone, Martin Bejerano on piano, and David Wong on double bass. 
Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter were some of the composers revisited by this nimble quartet.

Completely soaked and already feeling uncomfortable, I was, nevertheless, determined to see the man of the night. And I did! 
McCoy Tyner may not walk too fast as before, but his left hand still got that loftiness and charm that will be forever associated with Coltrane’s most exciting records, without forgetting his sensational albums as a leader. 
Harmonizing in style and often using his typical staccato phrasings during the improvisations, McCoy dug up wonders from the past, starting with “Fly With The Wind”, taken from the 1976 record of the same name. Then, a shortened version of “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit”, immediately followed by “Blues on the Corner” from the acclaimed “The Real McCoy”. 
With him, were the alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, the bassist Gerald Cannon, and the drummer Joe Farnsworth.

Like a drowned rat, I couldn’t stay beyond the third tune. However, I left extremely satisfied with the musicians I saw and the music I heard.