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Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Bon Voyage

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Despite his immense influence, Tyner’s recordings in the 25 years since he played piano in the John Coltrane Quartet are almost as uneven as they are diverse. Consider these two releases. The first, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, is his most enchanting album in years — a retrospective of pieces with which he has been associated, played solo or in congenial duets with guitarist John Scofield and tenor saxophonist George Adams. No new ground is broken, but he has already broken enough to house a city of imitators. The material is first-rate, the interpretations self-possessed, even serene. Bon Voyage, recorded on tour in 1987 with Tyner’s then-regular trio, is a similar mix of standards and originals, but without the creative juice. The title track is an aberrant attempt at a commercial sound (complete with electric bass); the rest appear to have been recorded hurriedly and with minimal thought. That’s the way it was packaged, too — six of the eight selections are listed in the wrong order. ”Things”: A; ”Bon Voyage”: C

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