Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 05/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tyner's recent work, with a couple of notable exceptions, has been in the trio, duo or solo settings. Throughout the late '60s and the '70s, however, he put out a long series of small-group releases featuring some of the finest horn players of the day. "Extensions" is a gem among these. Gary Bartz and Wayne Shorter, two of jazz's best sax players, then and now, make powerful contributions to "Extensions." Shorter is of course most often linked to his time with Miles Davis, but he and Tyner had a long and fruitful association in the '60s, with McCoy often joining Shorter on the latter's great Blue Note LPs. On this release, we get to hear Shorter's superb work on soprano sax (most notably "Message from the Nile"), which he had begun playing late in his time with Miles. Bartz, on alto, is, as always, a firestorm. Tyner added Alice Coltrane on harp to enrich the mixture, then finished it off with Elvin Jones' boiling drums and Ron Carter's impeccable bass. The result is an exotic, yet muscular and bluesy sound that stands up to repeated listenings. To sample the variety in sound and mood that Tyner achieved on this album, contrast the driving "Survival Blues" with the ethereal "His Blessings." Top-flight musicians, Tyner's incomparable blend of thunder and lightning on the keyboard and an unforced air of spirituality and awareness of jazz's African roots make "Extensions" a musical experience you'll enjoy again and again."
Essential McCoy Tyner
Frank Bock | 11/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Extensions is a must for any fan of McCoy, whether its him solo or him with Coltrane or him with the myriad of Bluenoters during the 60's. This album really has it all. It's interesting too because he chose Alice Coltrane to play harp on 3 of 4 songs. And her presence is quite apparant. The final song, "His Blessing," sounds like something that could have easily appeared on her album "Journey in Satchidananda," or "Ptah The El Daoud." (Both are phenomenal albums by the way, check them out!) McCoy brought in his best rhythm section I think... himself, Elvin Jones, and Ron Carter. I love Jimmy Garrison, but I really like the chemistry between these three. To my ears, Carter is just more flexible for this sort of thing. McCoy's soloists are Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano and Gary Bartz on alto! And Alice fits in somewhere in between. Atmosphere. The songs are extended modal pieces. Message from home kicks off with Ron Carters plucked bass and sweeping harp from Coltrane and eventually roars into a strong song with some great soloing by Shorter (on soprano) and Bartz. The Wanderer is a shorter (not Wayne, shorter in time) song with a fine solo by Elvin Jones, and no harp playing. Survival Blues is more like the title track... very powerful. And the last song, His Blessing, is a little different for McCoy. As I mentioned before it could have been something written by Alice Coltrane. It's slow and pretty with lots of harp and arco bass. This is a good, solid album, with a little bit of flavor to spice things up. It's different. It's essential. Nice sound too, though it would be even better if it was remastered. I think Wayne Shorter's soprano would sound a lot cleaner. Get the cd though, it's an unnotticed jem!"
Looking ahead to the Milestone years
G B | Connecticut | 01/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This exceptional album was one of McCoy Tyner's last albums for Blue Note, and it looks forward to the great run he would have on Milestone records for the rest of the 70s. Though it doesn't yet feature the dense, chromatic piano playing of Sahara and Enlightenment, a lot of the other elements are there -- extended modal blowing, elements of African and Asian music, and the appearance of background percussion. The lineup is the modal all-star team: not only former Tyner bandmate Elvin Jones, but also the great Wayne Shorter (who is quite "convincing" and "original", and contributes one of the best soprano solos ever on "Message from the Nile") and Gary Bartz on saxophones, and a surprise appearance by Alice Coltrane on the harp. Though she isn't a virtuoso soloist, the harp really adds to the exotic feel of the music. Ron Carter provides a flexible bedrock for the music. "Message from the Nile" (amazing, amazing, amazing) and "The Wanderer" are in the modal bag; "His Blessings" is a floating tone poem that could have indeed appeared on an Alice Coltrane album. Despite being further removed from the John Coltrane Quartet sound than The Real McCoy (1967), Extensions is a great companion to the masterpieces Tyner recorded for Milestone; if you like it, be sure to pick up Sahara (1972)."
Extending Your Musical Horizons
El Lagarto | Sandown, NH | 06/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very special and wonderful CD certain to be enjoyed by jazz lovers and those with an appetite for "exotic" music. Most jazz CDs are simply a collection of songs; about the only thing unifying them is that they're all being played by the same people. McCoy Tyner's Extensions is the polar opposite. Although the term "concept album" is reminiscent of wretched excesses inflicted on an unsuspecting public by self-indulgent rockers and greedy music executives, it does apply here. The four tracks of Extensions, though wildly disparate, knit together into a perfectly integrated whole that casts a very particular kind of spell.
Coltrane's ventures into the music of other continents and cultures are well known, and McCoy Tyner was right there with him. The presence of his widow, Alice Coltrane, whose harp adds an ethereal beauty to Extensions, seems both a literal and figurative homage to this sense of musical adventure and spiritual quest. Whether African or Asian, the feeling of other lands wafts through this music like trade winds; perhaps it is most accurate to say that the river Nile never seems too far away.
To praise the individual players resembles gilding the lily. Tyner is arguably our greatest jazz pianist, and he is particularly on point here. Wayne Shorter is simply on fire, at times one can picture him lifting off the ground, his soprano saxophone work is especially appropriate to the feeling of transcendent searching that permeates this CD. If you can find a better jazz drummer than Elvin Jones, please tell me, his drumming churns like boiling water, simply amazing. Gary Bartz would be the headline in any other group, he and Shorter blend perfectly, while Ron Carter offers a solid foundation which is indispensable to this musical voyage. This music definitely kicks, it's got the heat and emotion one finds only in the best jazz. But it gives you more than it. Extensions offers deeply spiritual music for the journey, the journey beyond the horizon."
"Ecstacy on U Street"
Leigh H. Mosley | 04/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I heard McCoy Tyner play the title cut of this album at Washington DC's Bohemian Caverns Jazz Club, I was ecstatic. Transported to earlier periods of music listening (40 years ago), I immediately purchased the CD and reunited this more contemporary piece with my old 60s standbys by Alice Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Pharoah Sanders. If you missed this one in '96, 2006, a decade after release is definitely not too late!"