Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is in Minneapolis for two nights at downtown’s Dakota Jazz Club. At seventy-seven, Tyner is one of the most influential jazz pianists of his time, most widely known for his work with the classic early sixties John Coltrane Quartet, of which he is the last surviving member.

Tyner’s imitable style on those recordings has been emulated by pianists for decades, but he remains one of those performers who is instantly recognizable to fans. No one else sounds quite like McCoy Tyner. His percussive use of the low end with his left hand, and his rapid, searching solos with his right translated Coltrane’s spiritually-charged saxophone to the keyboard. His heavy use of chords produce a deceptively streamlined structure to his solos, under lies enormous depth.


While Tyner is most associated with the sound of the Coltrane Quartet, he can also “swing lightly,” as Duke Ellington would often say in regard to a specific approach to rhythm and melody. In fact, on his last album for Coltrane’s label, Impulse Records, Tyner borrows the Quartet’s rhythm section for a program of Ellington songs which swings lightly with elegance and sophistication.

McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington explores widely-heard standards from the Ellington catalog as well as a few deep cuts. His “Solitude” is especially effervescent, more akin to Ellington’s 40s arrangement with vocalist Ivie Anderson than the introspective, almost lonely way it was performed solo and with the orchestra in later years. Tyner turns it into a cheerful tune.


In a side-and-a-half long track on Enlightenment nearly ten years later Tyner balanced this light swing with the almost overpowering polyphonics of the Coltrane Quartet. “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit” is opened by drum and bass solos (Alphonse Mouzon and Juni Booth) before Tyner and saxophonist Azar Lawrence introduce a relentlessly driving melody.

This twenty-four minute epic performance from the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the standards by which the seventies’ so-called “spiritual jazz” should be judged.

Performing with Tyner tonight and tomorrow here in Minneapolis is Gary Bartz, whose own albums of that era (several for Milestone Records, the same label which released Enlightenment) epitomize the potential of that golden era of exploration in jazz history. Yesterday’s Star Tribune lamented that Tyner had slowed down since the sixties, which is fair enough if also to be expected, but failed to mention Bartz (simply describing Tyner’s band as “not too shabby”). He has made appearances on Tyner’s albums since the sixties, as well as establishing his own enthralling amalgam of funk and free jazz with Ntu Troop on albums which are favorites in our collection.

Tyner’s bassist is Gerald Cannon, originally from Wisconsin and at one time the bassist for Elvin Jones’ band (performing at the old Dakota during the 90s). Drummer Francisco Mela is the youngest member of the quartet, but as a Cuban has a more diverse musical background. He also performs with Joe Lovano’s band and has recorded four acclaimed albums as a leader himself.

Maybe this is what it will sound like when the rise and fall of a romance is reported in the business section. Private Interests is the new project for Johnny Eggerman and Cam Soojian, reflecting a blending of their previous projects to produce a leaner, punker version of the former’s power pop trio, Mystery Date. Owing to a little insider trading the duo is backed by Southside Desire’s rhythm section on their debut, a six song cassette driven by the sort of irresistible hooks one expects from Mystery Date and the fervent energy of Soojian’s Ruggs, or of new label-mates (on Forged Artifacts) What Tyrants.


That trio, along with Distant Husbands and Star Child, will be opening for Private Interests on Friday at the Eagles Club. Expect more than six songs from the headliners, who have been playing since early this year and will also be appearing at a nine-act Replacements tribute at the Turf Club next month. In the meantime, you can check out another song, the ‘official’ single from the tape, on their Bandcamp page here.


The Nashville sit-in protests of the spring of 1960 provide an inspiring story which remains relevant today. The idea of segregated lunch counters is completely obsolete, not only for our advancements in race relations but also for the fact that department store lunch counters are entirely a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we have not as quickly left behind many of the prejudices which inspired such restrictions — the lunch counters of our grandparents’ time have been replaced by the passive racism of the banks which determine, among other things, whether and where you can buy a home or establish a business. If you’re not familiar with the term “redlining” it’s one you ought to look up, because it probably has more influence over the landscape of your neighborhood than most anything else.

If you think that the current Wells Fargo scandal is the ugliest skeleton in the banking giant’s giant closet, you’re in for a surprise. They’ve been fucking awful for years. Nearly a decade ago Wells Fargo was called out by the New York Times for its exploitation of African American customers. The same terrible practices in today’s scandal were at work during the banking industry’s subprime mortgage crisis, and the consequences were communities just like the one in Baltimore described in that New York Times article. It’s ostensibly about neighborhoods like the one around the Gilmore Homes complex, where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015, but the city of Baltimore’s suit against the bank (which ended with Wells Fargo paying million to the city and directly to African American residents) could have been about neighborhoods here in the Twin Cities or anywhere else in America.

That neighborhood became the epicenter of protests, and brought a national spotlight to the city of Baltimore. Much has been written about how the city ‘came together’ to clean up after the protests, but we — as a small business — are pretty uncomfortable with the extent to which the wrath of anger deserved by banks like Wells Fargo was levied on businesses very much like our own. Small businesses are already a victim of the institutional racism in lending, but are also one of the first steps in the improvements demanded by community activists in Baltimore and in cities around the country.

There are times when small businesses deserve the treatment they receive, as was the case with the Nashville sit-in protests of the spring of 1960. Downtown lunch counters which refused to accept desegregation were targeted by protestors, mostly African American students. Their non-violent protests were received by insults and in many cases physical assaults, but the effort was ultimately successful (six of the largest Nashville lunch counters began serving African American customers in May 1960). More importantly, the successful sit-ins drew national attention to the issue, and to the movement’s non-violent approach to protesting. We believe a protest of this sort would be well deserved by Wells Fargo today.


Folkways Records released a collection of recordings from the protests in Nashville later that year, undoubtedly inspiring similar organized passive resistance activities throughout the south. Today you’re hearing recordings from that album.

Nashville became the first city in the south to actively desegregate its public spaces, and this accomplishment was achieved by protestors not through the court system of federal government decree, but through direct negotiation with business owners. Meeting privately, protestors and business owners came up with a plan to introduce the change in small and steady steps. On May 10th African American citizens sat at the lunch counters of downtown Nashville without incident for the first time.

Does this offer the answer to all our problems today? Of course not. But do banking and business, small and large, have a responsibility? Absolutely.

Farewell Milwaukee’s Pop Up Tour will be stopping here at Hymies for a performance on Saturday at noon. They’ll be playing on the stage in the shop instead of on top of their big red bus! The band has two more stops for the day scheduled, and you can find details on their website (here). The country rock outfit is celebrating the release of their fifth album, FM.


And on Sunday we’re thrilled to welcome back our friends Black Market Brass, who last performed here for our block party in April. The umpteen piece Afrobeat ensemble just released their debut album, Cheat and Start a Fight, on Secret Stash Records with a sold out show at the Turf Club last month. Its our pick for the best local album of the year so far. No word yet on whether the LPs, which were delayed at the pressing plant, will be available this weekend — but the band is sure to blow the roof off your friendly neighborhood record store at 4pm on Sunday.


If you can’t wait until Sunday, here’s a taste of Black Market Brass from the Live at Hymie’s compilation LP/DVD which was released in April.


icarusThis recording of Gene Gutchë’s experimental composition Icarus was recorded by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977.

We chose to post it today in recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, which was (here in Minneapolis) formerly recognized as Columbus Day until August of 2014. This change is slowly being made all around the United States, and as we have posted every October for more than half a decade, it is long overdue.

However, Gutchë’s music celebrates Christopher Columbus, who is alternately recognized as the New World’s first slave trader and genocidal murderer. His remarks on the composition (below) reveal the often absurd inaccuracies indelibly left by the way we have taught history for generations. The phenomenon is entertainingly studied in an early chapter of James Loewen’s classic study of American history textbooks, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Setting aside his naive view of Columbus, Gutchë’s remarks express an optimism which offers an impetus to praise this country, rather than suggest it is in need of repair. Gutchë was an immigrant, having come to the United States in 1925 at the age of eighteen and settled permanently here in the Twin Cities mid-life.

This year, more than previous Octobers, we are best to remember that America remains as great as ever, in part because we have welcomed immigrants like Gutchë.

In the album’s notes, composer Gene Gutchë describes the work, and here is an excerpt:

Essentially, Columbus, a seafaring adventurer, measures his wits against the sea and comes to grips with rebellious men. Against these obstacles is the promise of a vast new continent. In context with its title the music is austere and assumes a raw physical power. Power can mean many things to different peoples. Wealth is a power. Position can direct our lives. Ideologies have destroyed civilizations. Today we need the strength Columbus implanted into our world.

It is the strength Washington/Lincoln/Kennedy possessed. A deliberate aim to set all me free. By this mean we become powerful.

I don’t know about you but I love this country. Tolerate everything. Dismiss the doubt. Accept. Overlook. Break many cups. In compassion is joy.

One of these days our earth shall be likened to the moon. When that happens another Icarus will rise and take us to a new star.


What an interesting weekend to watch the news it turned out to be! Seems like there’s a certain politician whose mother didn’t raise him very well — or maybe he just never heard this 1965 single by Roy Head and the Traits.



This week we made a new sign for the soundtracks section. We’re really proud of our selection, but we’re especially proud of this sweet new sign!




« Older entries

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.