Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Asante" brings together on CD cuts from two 1970 releases by Tyner: "Asante" (in its entirety) and the double album "Cosmos," from which the CD culls three cuts. The result is about 75 minutes of some extremely imaginative playing from Tyner and a great collection of bandmates.The first two cuts feature soaring vocals from Songai, which help to take the music well beyond the realm of mainstream jazz. They set the tone for the whole CD: Tyner blends powerful progressive jazz with exotic African and Eastern sounds, continuing the line established by John Coltrane during the '60s. The CD also highlights Tyner's compositional skills. He displays throughout a knack for writing lyrical, even hummable melodies, strengthened by powerful percussion and muscular horns. A good example is "Asian Lullaby," from "Cosmos," a composition that shows what fertile ground Tyner and others were plowing before fusion started dulling the consciousness of record executives and the public alike.A word must also be said about Tyner's cohorts on this release. The drumming by Billy Hart, Freddie Waits and Mtume is superior throughout. Andrew White plays alto ably on "Asante," then switches to oboe for "Cosmos" to add some breadth to the sound. The real powerhouse (aside from Tyner and his piano, of course) for me, though, is the underrecorded Gary Bartz, who plays alto and soprano on the three cuts from "Cosmos." Always a great player, Bartz is at the top of his game here. He sears through all his solos, but never forgets the melodic line and captures the rich flavor of Tyner's tunes.Tyner shows with this CD that jazz is music that draws, as Coltrane said, from a huge reservoir. "Asante," with its broad palette of colors, paints an endlessly fascinating picture of Tyner's musical world. Highly recommended."