McCoy Tyner  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Alfred McCoy Tyner (December 11, 1938 – March 6, 2020) was an American jazz pianist known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet and a long solo career.

He is known for such albums as Trident (1975) which features a rendition of "Impressions" (Coltrane) of which the bassline was sampled in "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)" (1991).

Tyner was the older brother of Jarvis Tyner, former executive vice chairman of the Communist Party USA.



Early life

Tyner was born in Philadelphia as the oldest of three children. He was encouraged to study piano by his mother. He began studying the piano at age 13 and within two years music had become the focal point in his life. When he was 17, he converted to Islam through the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and changed his name to Sulieman Saud. His neighbors in Philadelphia included musicians Richie Powell and Bud Powell.


In 1960, Tyner joined the Jazztet led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer. Six months later, he joined the quartet of John Coltrane that included Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. He worked with the band during its extended run at the Jazz Gallery, replacing Steve Kuhn (Coltrane had known Tyner for a while in Philadelphia, and performed one of the pianist's compositions, "The Believer", as early as 1958). He played on Coltrane's My Favorite Things for Atlantic. The band toured almost non-stop between 1961 and 1965, recording the albums Live! at the Village Vanguard, Ballads, Live at Birdland, Crescent, A Love Supreme, and The John Coltrane Quartet Plays for Impulse!.

While in Coltrane's group, he recorded albums as a leader in a piano trio. He also appeared as a sideman on many Blue Note albums of the 1960s, although he was often credited as "etc." on the cover of these albums to respect his contract with Impulse! Records.


His involvement with Coltrane came to an end in 1965. Coltrane's music was becoming much more atonal and free; he had also augmented his quartet with percussion players who threatened to drown out both Tyner and Jones: "I didn't see myself making any contribution to that music... All I could hear was a lot of noise. I didn't have any feeling for the music, and when I don't have feelings, I don't play". In 1966, Tyner rehearsed with a new trio and embarked on a career as a bandleader.

After leaving Coltrane's group, Tyner produced a series of post-bop albums released by Blue Note from 1967 to 1970. These included The Real McCoy (1967), Tender Moments (1967), Time for Tyner (1968), Expansions (1968) and Extensions (1970). He signed with Milestone and recorded Sahara (1972), Enlightenment (1973), and Fly with the Wind (1976), which included flautist Hubert Laws, drummer Billy Cobham, and a string orchestra.

His music for Blue Note and Milestone often took the music of the Coltrane quartet as a starting point. Tyner also incorporated African and East Asian elements in his music. On Sahara he played koto in addition to piano, flute, and percussion. These albums have been cited as examples of innovative jazz from the 1970s that was neither fusion nor free jazz. On Trident (1975) Tyner played the harpsichord and celeste, instruments heard rarely in jazz.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Tyner worked in a trio that included Avery Sharpe on bass and Louis Hayes, then Aaron Scott, on drums. He made solo albums for Blue Note, starting with Revelations (1988) and culminating in Soliloquy (1991). After signing with Telarc, he recorded with several trios that included Charnett Moffett on bass and Al Foster on drums. In 2008, he toured with a quartet of Gary Bartz, Gerald L. Cannon, and Eric Kamau Gravatt.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed McCoy Tyner among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

On March 6, 2020, Tyner died at his home in northern New Jersey, at the age of 81. No other details were provided.


Tyner is considered to be one of the most injazz pianists of the 20th century, an honor he earned during and after his time with Coltrane. Although he was a member of Coltrane's group, he was never overshadowed by Coltrane. He complemented and inspired Coltrane's open approach. His style of piano is comparable to Coltrane's maximalist style on saxophone.

Tyner and Coltrane used similar scales, chordal structures, melodic phrasings, and rhythms.

Tyner, who was left-handed, played with a low bass left hand in which he raised his arm high above the keyboard for an emphatic attack. His right-hand soloing was detached and staccato. His melodic vocabulary was rich, ranging from raw blues to complexly superimposed pentatonic scales; his approach to chord voicing (most characteristically by fourths) has influenced contemporary jazz pianists, such as Chick Corea.


Tyner was the older brother of Jarvis Tyner, former executive vice chairman of the Communist Party USA.


This discography of jazz pianist McCoy Tyner contains albums that he has released under his own name as well as albums on which he has appeared.

As leader

Title Year Recorded Label
Inception 1962 Impulse!
Reaching Fourth 1962 Impulse!
Nights of Ballads & Blues 1963 Impulse!
Today and Tomorrow 1963 Impulse!
Live at Newport 1964 Impulse!
McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington 1964 Impulse!
The Real McCoy 1967 Blue Note
Tender Moments 1967 Blue Note
Time for Tyner 1968 Blue Note
Expansions 1968 Blue Note
Cosmos 1968–1970 Blue Note
Extensions 1970 Blue Note
Asante 1970 Blue Note
Sahara 1972 Milestone
Song for My Lady 1972 Milestone
Echoes of a Friend 1972 JVC, Milestone
Song of the New World 1973 Milestone
Enlightenment 1973 Milestone
Sama Layuca 1974 Milestone
Atlantis 1974 Milestone
Trident 1975 Milestone
Fly with the Wind 1976 Milestone
Focal Point 1976 Milestone
Supertrios 1977 Milestone
Inner Voices 1977 Milestone
The Greeting 1978 Milestone
Passion Dance 1978 Milestone
Counterpoints: Live in Tokyo 1978 Milestone
Together 1979 Milestone
Horizon 1979 Milestone
Quartets 4 X 4 1980 Milestone
13th House 1981 Milestone
La Leyenda de La Hora 1981 Columbia
Looking Out 1982 Columbia
Love & Peace (with Elvin Jones also released as Reunited) 1982 Trio (Japan)
Dimensions 1984 Elektra
It's About Time (with Jackie McLean) 1985 Blue Note
Major Changes (with Frank Morgan) 1985 Blue Note
Just Feelin' 1985 Palo Alto
Double Trios 1986 Denon
Bon Voyage 1987 Timeless
Blues for Coltrane 1987 Impulse!
Live at the Musicians Exchange Cafe (also released as What's New?, The Real McCoy, and Hip Toe) 1987 Who's Who in Jazz
Revelations 1988 Blue Note
Uptown/Downtown 1988 Milestone
Live at Sweet Basil 1989 King
Things Aint What They Used to Be 1989 Blue Note
Round Midnight (with George Benson) 1989 Jazz Door
One on One (with Stephane Grappelli) 1990 Milestone
Blue Bossa 1991 LRC
Autumn Mood 1991 Laserlight
Soliloquy 1991 Blue Note
Remembering John 1991 Enja
New York Reunion 1991 Chesky
44th Street Suite 1991 Red Baron
Key of Soul 1991 Sweet Basil
Solar: Live at Sweet Basil 1991 Sweet Basil
In New York (with Steve Grossman) 1991 Dreyfus
Live in Warsaw (also released as Warsaw Concert 1991, At the Warsaw Jamboree and Beautiful Love) 1991 Who's Who in Jazz
The Turning Point 1991 Birdology
Journey 1993 Birdology
Manhattan Moods (with Bobby Hutcherson) 1993 Blue Note
Prelude and Sonata 1994 Milestone
Infinity 1995 Impulse!
What the World Needs Now 1997 Impulse!
McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane 1997 Impulse!
McCoy Tyner and the Latin All-Stars 1999 Telarc
McCoy Tyner with Stanley Clarke and Al Foster 2000 Telarc
Jazz Roots 2000 Telarc
Land of Giants 2003 Telarc
Illuminations 2004 Telarc
Quartet 2007 McCoy Tyner Music
Guitars 2008 McCoy Tyner Music
Solo: Live from San Francisco 2009 McCoy Tyner Music


  • Afro Blue - 2007 - Telarc
  • The Best of the McCoy Tyner Big Band - Milestone
  • The Best of McCoy Tyner - Blue Note

As sideman

with George Benson

  • Tenderly (1989)

with Art Blakey

with John Blake, Jr.

  • Maiden Dance (1983)

with Donald Byrd

with John Coltrane

with Lou Donaldson

with Art Farmer and Benny Golson

With Curtis Fuller

with Grant Green

with Freddie Hubbard

with Joe Henderson

with Bobby Hutcherson

with Milt Jackson

with J. J. Johnson

  • Proof Positive (1964) (appears on only 1 track)

with Blue Mitchell

with Hank Mobley

with Lee Morgan

with David Murray

with Julian Priester

with Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, and Al Foster

  • Milestone Jazzstars in Concert (1978)

with Avery Sharpe

  • Unspoken Words (1989)

with Woody Shaw, Jackie McLean, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette

with Wayne Shorter

with Sonny Stitt

  • Loose Walk (1966)

with Stanley Turrentine

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "McCoy Tyner" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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