McCoy Tyner - piano
McCoy Tyner headlined a Carnegie Hall show at the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival titled "Three Pianos and Two Guitars," following fellow pianists Mary Lou Williams and Bill Evans on the bill along with the acoustic guitar duo of Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine. By this time, Tyner was several years removed from his tenure in the John Coltrane Quartet (1960-1965) and had been blazing new trails as a leader in his own right during the '70s.
Tyner was 40 and in fine form on this June 28th solo set at Carnegie Hall. On the forceful modal opener, "Song of the New World," he runs cascading lines with the right hand while slamming signature chordal statements with the left. And his avant-garde asides on this turbulent number are positively Cecil Taylor-esque. His stunning extrapolation on Billy Eckstine's "I Want to Talk About You," the gorgeous ballad immortalized on John Coltrane's 1965 Ballads album, is a virtuosic turn by the great pianist in full stride. And he summons up his most potent display of keyboard pyrotechnics on the closer, a passionate solo piano rendition of John Coltrane's "The Promise," which Tyner had recorded with Trane on the 1963 Impulse classic, Live at Birdland.
A Philadelphia native, McCoy Tyner was born on December 11, 1938 and began studying piano at age 13. Inspired by Bud Powell, he developed quickly and by age 18 was playing alongside co-leaders Benny Golson and Art Farmer in the Jazztet, which released its debut Meet the Jazztet in 1960. He joined John Coltrane's group later that year, replacing Steve Kuhn on keyboards, and was a mainstay of that groundbreaking quartet for the next five years, alongside bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. During his incredibly productive tenure in the Coltrane Quartet, Tyner appeared on the saxophonist's important Atlantic albums including Coltrane Jazz, Coltrane Play the Blues, Coltrane's Sound and My Favorite Things. The potent quartet subsequently recorded a string of classic recordings for the Impulse label, including Live at the Village Vanguard, Impressions, Crescent and Love Supreme.
Tyner also appeared on several important Blue Note recordings by saxophonists Wayne Shorter, Stanley Turrentine and Hank Mobley as well as trumpeters Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard. His own Blue Note recordings as a leader include 1967's The Real McCoy, 1968's Expansions and 1970's Extensions. Tyner continued to record prolifically as a leader through the '70s for the Milestone label. Through the '80s and '90s he toured and recorded in solo, trio, small group and big band settings. In recent years, he has recorded with a whole host of artists, including Joe Lovano, Christian McBride and Jeff "Tain" Watts (2007's Quartet) along with six-stringers John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Derek Trucks, Bela Fleck and Marc Ribot (on 2008's Guitars). His most recent recording is 2009's Solo, a collection of unaccompanied jazz standards on the Half Note label. At age 72, the grand master of piano remains on the scene, touring regularly with bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt as the McCoy Tyner Trio.
-Written by Bill Milkowski