Gerald CannonLive at Dizzy’s Club: The Music of Elvin & McCoy Woodneck Records

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Recorded at the famed Jazz at Lincoln Center venue, Cannon’s latest musical endeavor honors two musical giants: McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, with whom Cannon proudly played alongside for 14 years, and nine years respectively. Invoking the true essence of McCoy and Elvin, Cannon’s vehicle features an outstanding ensemble of musicians who also shared the stage with these giants: pianist Dave Kikoski, drummer Lenny White, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and trombonist Steve Turre.

Nothing says ‘lineage’ like a congruence of living legends paying homage to two of the great architects of the jazz artform. To tap into the immense spirit of Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner is no simple task, and no one is more suited to lead such an ambitious outing than bassist Gerald Cannon. Cannon has McCoy’s adventurous harmonic ethos and Elvin’s rhythmic invention spun into the very strands of his own musical DNA. The Music of Elvin & McCoy tells a story about Cannon’s musical journey, chronicling his years with Elvin, McCoy and also the time that he spent with pianist Larry Willis in the Roy Hargrove Band. These mentors were revered by Cannon who acted as the common thread in their ensembles for many years. 

Over the course of two evenings, June 3 – 4, 2022, at New York City’s iconic Dizzy’s Club, audiences were treated to many moments of passion, grace and soul delivered by Cannon and his esteemed bandmates. Bassist Buster Williams, who shares storied histories with Jones, Tyner and Willis, remarks in the liner notes: “…this is the quintessence of art. It’s no surprise that this is an exceptional recording. These guys know how to breathe, they know how to trust, they create freedom for each other.”

The album begins with Elvin Jones’ “EJ’s Blues”, immediately showcasing the sheer tightness of the rhythm section and the communication taking place between the frontline players, Cannon, and drummer Lenny White. The group then changes tempos and delivers one of Gerald Cannon’s compositional gems  – “Three Elders”. This heart-rending composition demonstrates the bandleader’s deep love felt for Jones, Tyner and Willis. Henderson begins the piece with a solo trumpet intro reminiscent of ‘taps’, in honor of these three fallen heroes who paved the way for us all. 

The band delivers a spirited rendition of Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly”, a tune that originally appeared on Jones’ Genesis album. Cannon offers a rousing, lyrical solo before shifting into one of McCoy Tyner’s classic compositions, “Search For Peace”. The piece features Lovano and Henderson who both masterfully convey a story with their horns over McCoy’s changes. The piece gains its buoyancy through Cannon and White’s impeccable feel. McCoy’s “Blues in The Minor” begins with Cannon and White, and then the ensemble joins explosively. Kikoski offers a brilliant solo, harkening to McCoy’s fourth-filled voicings and pentatonic refrains. Cannon, Kikoski and White are so locked that they appear to be joined at the hip. Lovano and Irby bring a true fire to this piece with their supple melodic invention. 

The band continues with another McCoy Tyner piece entitled “Home”. White’s driving cymbal-work brings a crispness to the piece that is perfectly complemented by Cannon’s deep groove and Kikoski’s left hand. On this piece in particular, one can hear, undeniably, the joy that this group feels playing together. Kikoski’s solo is both insightful and elegant, befitting McCoy’s composition. The group explores an array of dynamics and textures on “Contemporary Focus”. A bombastic, densely harmonic melody section leads to driving solos by Lovano, Turre, and Irby. The dynamics shift when Henderson comes in for a solo and is accompanied only by Cannon and later being joined by the rest of the group. A true ensemble piece!

The group concludes the album with the McCoy Tyner classic “Inception”. The piece features Kikoski who really stretches out and demonstrates his melodic acuity, White and Cannon offering a muscular accompaniment. 

Gerald Cannon Live at Dizzy’s Club – ngs at Dizzy’s, but of the continued impact of masters Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Larry Willis on the jazz idiom. With his immense and singular voice on his instrument, Cannon is the living through-line to the sound of the masters, carrying the lineage of the artform forward into present day The Music of Elvin & McCoy acts as a stellar document, not only of two swingin’ evening’s.