Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is widely considered one of the finest and most influential pianists in jazz history. His signature booming left-hand and fleeting right created a unique sound that can be heard on his recordings as a sideman with the John Coltrane Quartet in the 1960s and on his 80-plus albums as a leader. Tyner’s most recent project for McCoy Tyner Music/Half Note Records is his first solo effort in almost a decade titled Solo: Live From San Francisco. The release is the third for his label and features eleven solo vignettes recorded at the Herbst Theater in 2007.
Tyner’s blues based piano style, replete with sophisticated chords and an explosively percussive left hand has transcended conventional styles to become one of the most identifiable sounds in improvised music. His harmonic contributions and dramatic rhythmic devices form the vocabulary of a majority of jazz pianists.
Born in 1938 in Philadelphia, he became a part of the fertile jazz and R&B scene of the early ‘50s. His parents imbued him with a love for music from an early age. His mother encouraged him to explore his musical interests through formal training.
At 17 he began a career-changing relationship with Miles Davis’ sideman saxophonist John Coltrane. After Coltrane left Davis’ band, Tyner joined Coltrane for the classic album My Favorite Things (1960), and remained at the core of what became one of the most seminal groups in jazz history, The John Coltrane Quartet. The band, which also included drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison, had an extraordinary chemistry, fostered in part by Tyner’s almost familial relationship with Coltrane.
During his tenure with John Coltrane, Tyner also held the piano chair on seminal albums such as Live At The Village Vanguard in 1961, Ballads, Live at Birdland in 1963, Crescent, A Love Supreme, The John Coltrane Quartet Plays, Kulu Se Mama, Ascension, Sun Ship, and Meditations. “He was like a big brother to me,” Tyner recently said of Coltrane. “He looked out for me and taught me an incredible amount. It was a wonderful period in my life.”
In 1965, after over five years with Coltrane's quartet, Tyner left the group to explore his destiny as a composer and bandleader. Among his major projects is a 1967 album entitled The Real McCoy, on which he was joined by saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter and fellow Coltrane alumnus Elvin Jones. His 1972 Grammy-award nomination album Sahara, broke new ground by the sounds and rhythms of Africa. Since 1980, he has also arranged his lavishly textured harmonies for a big band that performs and records when possible.
In the summer of 2005, Tyner joined forces with the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York and became the first client of Blue Note Management. That summer, Tyner began work on some unique projects, including performances with tap-dancer Savion Glover and the development of the Impulse! Septet, featuring his trio with some of today’s top hornmen.
Tyner’s partnership with the Blue Note has led to the formation of his own record label, aptly titled McCoy Tyner Music. The label is a subsidiary of the Blue Note’s
In-House record label, Half Note Records. The label launched on September 11, 2007, upon the release of Tyner’s latest CD, “Quartet” featuring Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, and Jeff “Tain” Watts.
McCoy Tyner’s second release for the McCoy Tyner Music label, titled GUITARS, was released on September 23, 2008. The recording features the stellar rhythm section of Tyner, Ron Carter, and Jack DeJohnette with four modern guitarists (and one banjo) of our time: Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, John Scofield, Derek Trucks, and Bela Fleck. The package is a CD/DVD that includes 3 hours of multi-angle viewing capabilities. In August 2009, Tyner released his third recording for McCoy Tyner Music, a solo piano performance recorded live in San Francisco during the summer of 2007 titled Solo: Live From San Francisco. The recording featured Tyner playing eleven vignettes, both standards and original compositions.
Tyner has always expanded his vision of the musical landscape and incorporated new elements, whether from distant continents or diverse musical influences. More recently he has arranged for big bands, employed string arrangements, and even reinterpreted popular music. Today, Tyner has released nearly 80 albums under his name, earned four Grammys and was awarded Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002. He continues to leave his mark on generations of improvisers, and yet remains a disarmingly modest and spiritually directed man.
131 W. 3rd St
New York, NY 10012