Rounding out the final two shows of the April 2009 Boulder Theater / KUVO 89/3 Jazz Radio Jazz concert series was piano jazz legend McCoy Tyner and his trio on Tuesday the 28th and John Scofield and his crack Piety Street Band on Wednesday April 29th.
Piano player McCoy Tyner, perhaps best known for his early career work with John Coltrane starting in 1960 (that then flourished into a 50 year career) was backed up on bass by Gerald Cannon and drummer Eric Gravatt. Attendance along with expectations were high and the Tyner Trio most certainly delivered.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect was how playful and daring the performance was. Tyner led his rthym section into incredibly complex arrangements seemingly spanning the entire span of recorded jazz music. At many times throughout the performance it seemed as though the trio could take a wrong turn at any moment; yet they never did. It was almost as though Tyner and his bandmates were toying with the audience... playfully pushing musically boundaries while creating the illusion they were playing on the edge as they went along.
Bassist Gerald Cannon had one of the showstopping highlights when he segued one of his bass solos into a few melody lines from Eric Clapton's "Layla" and the Beatles "Daytripper" to the obvious delight of the crowd. I was especially amazed at the beauty of the stage lighting throughout the show and near flawless sound of the Boulder Theater.
Rolling into Wednesday night and switching directions completely from his normal jazz fusion roots, John Scofield and his Piety Street Band threw down a New Orleans dance party on Wednesday night's show. With a back-up band consisting of Ricky Fataar (drums), John Cleary (keyboards/guitar/lead vocals), and Donald Ramsey (bass), Scofield's Piety Street Band kicked off with a bluesy foot stomper clearly aimed at explaining to the crowd that they were in for night of dancing and partying.
The songs stuck close in form to New Orleans style blues and gospel but at times ranged a little wider: from the the rollicking boogie shuffle of "Motherless Child", into fiery blues rock songs that morphed into tranced out fusion jams featuring Scofield's signature guitar wizardry, and even tackling an old cover of Hank Williams's "The Angel of Death" which floated softly between Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and U2's Rattle and Hum era "Van Diemen's Land,"
I was pleasantly surprised to see a wildly diverse crowd of people from their 20's to 60's (one guy at the front of the stage had a huge mohawk!). Also worth mentioning was keyboardist and lead vocalist John Cleary. It's not easy to hold your own on stage with a living musical legend but, not only did he hold his own, he helped take the entire show to an entirely new level.
All McCoy Tyner Trio Photos: Susan Gatschet
All John Scofield & Piety Street Band Photos: Jamie Kreutz