Contentious view of Tanya
M. Smyth | 12/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I agree with the high-praise of the other reviewers, I can't help but think that minor elements knock it down a notch.
It is a given that Dexter is the consummate "heavy" and typically brilliant on this date. He is magical throughout with his innovative, (seemingly) effortless, and confidently hip solos.
One simple critique is the brevity; only 4 songs, which is not a big deal except that the standard "Darn That Dream" is close to filler if not for the quality of Dexter's solo. In fact, the liner notes tell us the original album had only 3 tunes having dropped "Kong Neptune" as being a dud. Also, in my view, "Tanya" is a bit too long.
My issue with "Tanya" is this: Yes, it is a great theme, but with this type of hard-bop, bluesy modal music, it can sound like movie soundtrack music at 18 minutes unless there is enough dynamic variation or abstract playing. While the younger Byrd contributed the vogue modal piece, Dexter preferred a fairly traditional interpretation and was not interested in any Coltrane-influenced explorations. As good as he is, why would he? It's just that the form, at least in retrospect, seems to call for it. It is unfair, but I can't help but think that an 18-minute tune like this would fly by with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Lee Morgan filling-in for these capable and steady cats. Perhaps restraint and subtlety are everything?
Otherwise, "Coppin' the Haven" tilts the scales making One Flight Up a brilliant addition to any collection.