Review by Brad Walseth
This new release in the "Keepnews Collection" (named for famed producer Orrin Keepnews) from Milestones and Concord Records of the classic 1976 McCoy Tyner album "Fly With the Wind" is a must-have for any jazz collection. Pairing the powerful pianist with strings was a novel enough idea, but adding another great soloist in flautist Hubert Laws and an absolutely incendiary rhythm section of Ron Carter and Billy Cobham was genius. With lush and interesting string arrangements by William Fischer (who also conducted) that perfectly balance the vividly primal drumming of Cobham, who nearly steals the show, Keepnews considers this recording to be his favorite of the 17 or so albums he produced for Tyner because of the way it links "power and beauty." Remastered in 24-bits from the original tapes, this great album sounds better than ever.
Tyner plays exceptionally throughout and the compositions are rhythmic, yet shimmering and melodic. Laws is at the top of his game, providing exceptional solos on both flute and alto flute. Carter, one of the best and most recorded bassists of his generation, is his usual solid self and seems especially supercharged here (check out his incredible "walking" solo on "Rolem"), while Cobham is sound and fury incarnate, having just left the fusion power group Mahavishnu Orchestra. His aggressive, double-bass drumming contrasts nicely with the lovely flute, piano and strings: it is a superb combination that makes for a truly exciting musical experience. Amazingly, the liner notes reveal that there was no overdubbing done on the recording and that everything was played "live" in the studio. This is especially noteworthy in that the string parts are quite complex and jazzy and hardly the standard fare the studio string players would have been exposed to.
The title track and "Rolem" are fusion in the best sense of the word, combined with Tyner's more hard bop sensibilities. "Salvadore de Samba" brings in a Latin flavor, but at breakneck speed. "Beyond the Sun" is a lovely ballad showcasing McCoy's impressive range on the keyboard, while the only cover included is "You Stepped Out of a Dream" that is hardly recognizable in the radical form presented here. Alternate takes of "Beyond the Sun" and "Rolem" add some extra length and interest to the somewhat short, but thrilling album that spotlights these important jazz artists in their prime.