McCoy Tyner
The Pianist.

'To me living and music are all the same thing. And I keep finding out more about
music as I learn more about myself, my environment, about all kinds of different
things in life. I play what I live. Therefore, just as I can't predict what kinds of
experiences I'm going to have, I can't predict the directions in which my music will go.
I just want to write and play my instrument as I feel.'

-McCoy Tyner


McCoy Tyner, courtesy of Leon Kerkstra.
The Basics:

“McCoy Tyner played the piano for the John Coltrane Quartet from 1960 to 1965.” A simple statement, with intense musical ramifications.Tyner was encouraged to play the piano by his mother at age 13. As a teenager, he hosted jam sessions in his home with friends from his neighborhood. Who were these friends? The likes of Lee Morgan, Archie Shepp, Bobby Timmons and Regie Workman; men from Philadelphia's inner city who would make their own strides in jazz music. Tyner was diligent in practicing and naturally led the informal ensembles of community musicians he played with, even as a teenager. During his summers, Tyner played at lounges and clubs in Atlantic City- not old enough to consume alcohol, but a good enough pianist to perform with Paul Jeffries and Lee Morgan.


[Tyner's] playing is unmistakable. Those thick block-chords,
chromatic harmonies, and percussive melodies are all
signature touches of McCoy Tyner who, along with Bill Evans
and Herbie Hancock, is one of the most influential pianists to
emerge since Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.
- National Public Radio Feature

Tyner graduated high school in 1959 and was recruited
by Benny Golson to play at
the Jazz Workshop in San Fransisco, which he did for several months. He then played in the Jazztet, which included Golson and trumpeter Art Farmer.
In the back of Tyner’s mind however, was a conversation he’d had with John Coltrane the year before.
He’d met Coltrane several months earlier, and though touring with Miles Davis
at the time, Coltrane expressed an interest in beginning his own ensemble; with Tyner in it.
In 1960, the JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET was formed- Tyner was just 17.

[Coltrane] was like a big brother. I was a kid
when I first met and played for him.
I was 17 years old. We were like family and that’s
how I looked at it. I didn’t look at it as
"I’m just working for him." I loved working with John.
I loved him as a person. He’ll
always have an influence on me.
That was my university. He was very,
very generous in terms
of allowing us to have an opportunity
to develop. That was very important.
So, that influence is there. And I love
the music we created a lot.
-McCoy Tyner