Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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TYNER, McCoy

(b 11 December 1938, Philadelphia PA) Pianist, composer; recognized as an important part of the epochal John Coltrane Quartet '60-5, then became a master in his own right. He has taken the Islamic name Sulaimon Saud. His mother played piano; he was influeced by Richie and Bud Powell, who were neighbours; he first met Coltrane '59 in Philadelphia, played with the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet, then joined Coltrane. He led own trio '66, then a quartet, also worked with Ike and Tina Turner, Jimmy Witherspoon etc.

His own LPs on Impulse were later compiled on MCA two-disc sets as Early Trios, Great Moments, Reevaluation: The Impulse Years; still later CDs on MCA/Impulse were Inception, Nights Of Ballads And Blues, and McCoy Tyner Plays Duke Ellington from '64. The Real McCoy '67 for Blue Note, with Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, was hailed as a significant and beautiful album. Other Blue Notes included Tender Moments '68, Expansions and It's About Time (with Jackie McLean). A long series on Milestone included Sahara '72, Sama Lucaya, Song For My Lady, Song For The New World, solo Echoes Of A Friend (dedicated to Coltrane), two-disc sets Enlightenment '73 (at Montreux) and Atlantis, many of these with Azar Lawrence on reeds (b 3 Nov. '53, Los Angeles; own LPs on Prestige), adding John Blake on violin c.1973. Also Trident (with Jones and Carter), Fly With The Wind '76 (with Hubert Laws, Billy Cobham, Carter), Focal Point '76, Inner Voices and The Greeting '78, Together and Passion Dance '78 (live in Tokyo), Horizon '79, 13th House and two-disc 4x4 (with Cecil McBee) '80; two-disc compilations were Supertrios and Reflections.

On other labels: Time For Tyner '69 with Bobby Hutcherson, later on Pausa; Leyenda De La Hora ('The Legend Of The Hour') and Looking Out on Columbia; Dimensions on Elektra; Reunited '82 on Blackhawk with Jones and Pharoah Sanders; Just Feelin' '85 on Palo Alto (later on Quicksilver CD). Live At Sweet Basil '89 on Paddle Wheel/Evidence CD was a trio set. Tyner is a master of structure, using it in his improvising like a composer, and of tension and release; he rarely plays 'free' but stretches rhythms and tonalities to their limit with unerring judgement; his sound is bright, exultant, affirmative: life-enhancing. The McCoy Tyner Big Band made Uptown/Downtown '88 on Milestone, The Turning Point '91 and Journey '93 on Verve. Double Trios '87 on Denon had acoustic and electric sets, the latter with Marcus Miller on bass; one critic thought Tyner was beginning to sound like his imitators, the fate of many of the most influential musicians, and perhaps evidence that critics sometimes do not listen closely enough. Manhattan Moods '93 on Blue Note was a lovely duo with Bobby Hutcherson on vibes; Prelude And Sonata '94 on Milestone had Christian McBride on bass, Marvin Smith on drums, horns Joshua Redman and Antonio Hart on some tracks. Infinity '96 was back on Impulse, a quartet with tenorist Michael Brecker; Tyner also played on Brecker's Tales From The Hudson on that label. What The World Needs Now: The Music Of Burt Bacharach '97 by McCoy Tyner with symphony arranged by John Clayton made high-class easy listening.