Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner passed away on March 6 at 81. Tyner was the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet. NPR writes of his life:
Few musicians have ever exerted as much influence as a sideman. His crucial role in the group’s articulation of modal harmony, from the early 1960s on, will always stand as a defining achievement: The ringing intervals in his left hand, often perfect fourths or fifths, became the cornerstone of a style that endures today.
But Tyner was always a more multidimensional musician than the sum of his mannerisms would seem to suggest. And he had a long, consequential post-Coltrane career as a composer and bandleader. Among his dozens of albums are a handful regarded as classics, like Reaching Fourth, The Real McCoy and Atlantis. A number of his compositions, including “Passion Dance” and “Peresina,” have entered the common repertory.
“On all the recordings with Coltrane, and indeed on all his work of the ’60s, McCoy’s crisp, lightning-fast right-hand lines, set against the sheer power of his left, are a revelation,” jazz historian Lewis Porter, one of Coltrane’s biographers, wrote in an email to NPR Music on Friday. “He came out of the tradition (he mentioned Thelonious Monk as one of his favorites), but he was one of those few who forged an absolutely unique style.”
Because Tyner’s work with Coltrane catapulted him to the first tier of accompanists, that style can be heard on some of the landmark jazz albums of the ’60s. Among them are Page One, by tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, and Open Sesame, by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard – a pair of auspicious debuts on Blue Note — and Stick-Up! by vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.