Listen Up: Wednesday, July 16, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Charnett Moffett, Eric Harland

Land of Giants (Telarc)

By Michael Pellecchia

When I play jazz with other local artists, I’m often asked the name of our group. We don’t have a name, and that puzzles some folks. That’s why I’m so glad the name of this group is made up of the names of the individuals, older generation listed first. McCoy Tyner was a frequent collaborator of John Coltrane’s, and Bobby Hutcherson played on Eric Dolphy’s landmark Out to Lunch — and those credits are just for starters in establishing pedigree. Charnett Moffett and Eric Harland have been dancing around the epicenter of jazz since the 1980s. The age range could best be described as fathers and sons. In this paradigm (which typically results in countless yawner jazz and blues dates), the old guys like how their sound is affected by the young lions’ playing. And the young guys like being heard (and seen) in the company of major monsters.

Whatever magic was generated by the London shows that spawned this disc, it isn’t here. Land of Giants is a pedestrian c.d., aimed at the various fans of each of the four musicians. Can you say “record company”? Because this disc sounds like one of those manufactured projects in which the young guys are supposed to hold the old guys up. In this case the young guys are mostly irrelevant (though they both play really neat solos on some tunes). Hutcherson plays circles around both of the youngsters, and McCoy Tyner plays licks he probably knew before either Moffett or Harland were born. One thing that will stand out to listeners is Hutcherson’s phrasing on the vibraphone. Not only are many of his lines distinctly horn-like, they’re constructed in such a way that you can almost feel him breathing the notes through his lungs instead of through his mallets. On piano, Tyner gives it his best shot, but the rhythm section doesn’t seem to be moving him too much. You gotta wonder what things would have sounded like had just the two giants recorded together.


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