After six albums as a leader for Impulse!, pianist McCoy Tyner made the move to Blue Note in 1967 with The Real McCoy, an iconic jazz document of the era and Tyner’s first record of all-original material. It was Tyner’s extensive work on Impulse! with the John Coltrane Quartet that had rocketed him to prominence. Here he was, two years after leaving Coltrane, recording roughly three months before the tenor giant’s untimely death. A new post-Coltrane era was in the offing.
Yet The Real McCoy found Tyner in the company of Coltrane drummer and bandmate Elvin Jones. It’s in the slowly churning swing of “Contemplation” that we hear one of the purest examples of an Elvin Jones feel—a supple, elastic groove that has proven timelessly influential. The closing “Blues on the Corner,” one of Tyner’s catchiest and most characteristic melodies, is another Jones vehicle for the ages.
On bass, enlisted from the ranks of the Miles Davis Quintet, is Ron Carter in superb form. And on tenor sax is one of Coltrane’s preeminent heirs on the horn, Joe Henderson, entirely at home in Tyner’s harmonic language and aesthetic, poised and expressive on a minor-key ballad like “Search for Peace,” swinging with fury on the uptempo “Passion Dance” and “Four by Five.” The overall chemistry and invention in this lineup was off the charts, as were Tyner’s pianistic acuity and drive.