Only those who've followed jazz a good long while—longer than Chick Corea has been a Scientologist, say, or than Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran have been alive—might remember when the piano looked just about done for. Ornette Coleman dealt the first blow by eliminating the instrument from his rhythm section—in the bargain, undermining everything it stood for: improvisation according to strict harmonic guidelines and the tyranny of intonation, for starters. By 1966, when McCoy Tyner left John Coltrane, complaining he could no longer hear himself, nobody else could hear him, either, probably including Coltrane. Despite an approach as obsessively pianistic as Art Tatum's, Cecil Taylor was routinely praised for subverting the keyboard into "88 tuned bongos," as if his relevance depended solely on percussive attack, owing nothing to his leading jazz into fertile harmonic territory previously staked out only by European avant-gardists. But the coup de grâce was early-'70s fusion, which reduced what was increasingly referred to as an "acoustic" piano to merely one more keyboard in an arsenal of them, no better than a synthesizer or electric model—no match for them, in fact, in supplying... More >>>