The enduring legacy of McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner (1938 – 2020) influenced just about every jazz pianist since he revolutionized jazz piano in the early 1960s. Incredibly, he even influenced many of those pianists who had already developed mature styles before then. For example, I heard some McCoy in the playing of my own jazz piano teacher, Billy Taylor, when I studied with him in the 1980s, even though Taylor had developed his style in the 40s and 50s. MyCoy Tyner took the jazz world by storm as a member of The John Coltrane Quartet, and his influence can be felt almost everywhere in one way or another.

If you play 4th voicings, low 5ths in the bass register, poly rhythms that float over the underlying beat, or improvise with pentatonic scales, chances are that you got them at least in part from “The Real McCoy.”

Here’s an obit:

Although most jazz pianists tend to focus on Tyner’s uptempo music, his slower, more tender playing is what has influenced me. Here he is, playing the poignant “Alabama” with The John Coltrane Quartet. Coltrane would not have been able to play as freely and emotionally as he did without McCoy’s particular piano textures to support him.

Let’s all take a moment and remember the man and his music.

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