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This Day in Music – December 11, 1938 – McCoy Tyner’s Birthday!!

Today McCoy Tyner celebrates his 75th birthday, Happy Birthday, McCoy. From his biography at Facebook,

It is not an overstatement to say that modern jazz has been shaped by the music of McCoy Tyner. His 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. 

Alfred McCoy Tyner  was born on December 11, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, He wad the oldest of three children and  encouraged to study piano by his mother.  On his website Tyner writes that he was given the choice y his mother to take singing or piano lessons and he was glad that he chose the piano!!

The only McCoy Tyner album I have in my library is a cassette of his 1968 release Expansions. At AllMusic Scott Yanow writes

Of pianist McCoy Tyner’s seven Blue Note albums of the 1967-1970 period, Expansions is the most definitive. Tyner‘s group (comprised of trumpeter Woody Shaw, altoist Gary Bartz, tenor saxophonist Wayne ShorterRon Carter on cello, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Freddie Waits) is particularly strong, the compositions (four Tyner originals plus Calvin Massey’s “I Thought I’d Let You Know”) are challenging, and the musicians seem quite inspired by each other’s presence. The stimulating music falls between advanced hard bop and the avant-garde, pushing and pulling at the boundaries of modern mainstream jazz. More

But though I only have one album I have heard his piano through the years, particularly on the Coltrane albums that he played on.  Tyner joined Coltrane’s group in 1960. From Wikipedia:

 He appeared on the saxophonist’s popular recording of “My Favorite Things” for Atlantic Records. The Coltrane Quartet, which consisted of Coltrane on tenor sax, Tyner, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums, toured almost non-stop between 1961 and 1965 and recorded a number of classic albums, including Live at the Village Vanguard, Ballads, Live at Birdland, Crescent, A Love Supreme, and The John Coltrane Quartet Plays …, on the Impulse! label.

The albums that he recorded after leaving Coltrane’s group are according to Wikipedia:

.…often cited as examples of vital, innovative jazz from the 1970s that was neither fusion nor free jazz.Trident (1975) is notable for featuring Tyner on harpsichord (rarely heard in jazz) and celeste, in addition to his primary instrument, piano.  

His style according to Wikipedia is…..

easily comparable to Coltrane’s maximalist style of saxophone.[1] Though a member of Coltrane’s group, he was never overshadowed by the saxophonist, but complemented and even inspired Coltrane’s open-minded approach.[1] Tyner is considered to be one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century, an honor he earned both with Coltrane and in his years of performing following Coltrane’s death

Sources and Links:

Wikipedia: McCoy Tyner
AllMusic: Biography
Facebook: McCoy Tyner
All About Jazz:McCoy Tyner

So let’s start our morning by wishing McCoy as Happy Birthday and watch McCoy and John Coltrane’s son Ravi as they perform “Walk spirit talk spirit” at Jazz à Vienne in 2012.