McCoy Tyner has had an illustrious career. From working as a sidemen on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme to his classic jazz albums as a frontman such as The Real McCoy. Today I would like to talk about one of his lesser known albums which I thoroughly enjoyed, Blue Bossa. With McCoy Tyner on piano as the frontman, Avery Sharpe on bass, Aaron Scott on drums, Raphael Cruz on percussion, and Claudio Roditi on trumpet and flugelhorn, this album has balance. It has the musicians McCoy Tyner is comfortable with and a guest artist in Roditi. McCoy Tyner has an overwhelming amount of quality albums, but if you give it an opportunity you will find value and delight in listening to Blue Bossa.
The album begins with the title track “Blue Bossa” and wow what energy. The track begins with Raphael Cruz on percussions and then McCoy Tyner creates an intro which leads to the melody played by Roditi. The track, which is a standard written by Kenny Dorham, has beautiful rhythm thanks to Cruz and the solos keep this tempo and groove going. McCoy is a master of penatonic and be bop lines and this solo, and this album, are a prime example of that. He gives you all he has and makes it impossible to not dance in your seat while listening to his solo. Roditi keeps the energy going and adds his own style to the tune, but my favorite solo on this track is definitely Avery Sharpe’s solo on bass. He just plays with these deep low sounds and rhythmically amazing lines. They groove on the song for a bit then lead back to the melody and then fade out.
The next record is titled “Recife’s Blues” and is written by Roditi himself. The track begins with a funky groove and a interesting intro by McCoy, it all comes together nicely when Roditi comes in with the melody. This song just flat out grooves, it reminds me of New Orleans Jazz. McCoy is pro on this one, his solo is beautiful, complex, rhythmic, and has a blues feel to it throughout. Roditi solos next and keeps the New Orleans Jazz feel throughout his solo, he keeps the party going. After his solo some trading goes on between the drummer Aaron Scott, and Roditi which leads into the melody and concludes the track.
“I”ll Take Romance” is next and contains McCoy Tyner playing the melody which is a nice change of pace since, so far, that has been Roditi’s responsibility. This waltz is played beautifully by McCoy great inflection during the melody and an amazing solo as well. After McCoy solos Sharpe has another fantastic solo on bass, every time he solos it’s an absolute delight and this is coming from a person who isn’t always begging for a bass solo. Missing from this tune is Roditi, but and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, he is not missed. This trio has played together before so, they feel very comfortable playing together and it shows making “I’ll Take Romance” a highlight on this album.
McCoy Tyner’s own “Rotunda” follows and once again Roditi is absent, but not missed. McCoy really shines on this track which should be to no one’s surprise since he wrote it. He plays the melody, plays a long solo, and orchestrates beautiful chords to fade out the tune. Following “Rotunda” we have “We Will Be Together” which is a beautiful ballad and brings Roditi back into the album. A key aspect to this tune is the interaction between the rhythm section and the solists. This is important because ballads can begin to sound boring when played without interaction. The album concludes with “The Natural Bridge” and “Traces”. “Traces” is a nice way to end the album giving us some more latin music to conclude the album with, which is important since the album is titled Blue Bossa.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album I feel it is often overlooked mainly because it is not one of the top five or even top ten albums McCoy has worked on. This however, speaks more about how accomplished McCoy is then how good this album is. Despite it not being one of McCoy’s greatest works listening to McCoy Tyner’s Blue Bossa will be an enjoyable experience to fans of Jazz, Bossa Nova’s, and music in general.