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McCoy Tyner has died, aged 81


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In certain very real ways, there is no musical universe of legend that means more to me than the one created by John Coltrane in his peak years of innovation. Inside the stretch of music that encompasses Trane's classic period, McCoy Tyner was a--if not *the*--definitive component. The harmonic and coloristic language that McCoy created to balance Trane's increasingly abstract constructions was the fulcrum point upon which advanced hard bop transformed into something completely new and endlessly influential. I think it can be argued that Trane began to transition into a kind of paradigm around the time his sound was first paired with McCoy's:

None of this goes to diminish McCoy's own really significant body of work, which is in its own way the Platonic form of a kind of muscular, Afrocentric jazz. McCoy's Blue Note period plays like an earthier variation on the early 60's Coltrane Quartet music, but it's on the Milestone label, with albums like Sahara and Song for My Lady, that McCoy took the genetics of the classic Coltrane sound and mutated them into a shape that better reflected the exigencies of a different era. The almost hilariously virtuosic music that McCoy essayed in the ensuing few decades exposes, at its beating core, the soul of an artist who confronted his own (already significant) legacy and sought to make it both stronger and more meaningful.

You know what will always stick with me about McCoy? The (in a way) deeply masculine muscularity of his own music belies a sensitivity and practical versatility that cannot be understated. Without McCoy's innovations we would not have been gifted the lush, effervescent soundscapes that Alice Coltrane contributed to John's late Quintet. A lot of the greats cribbed bits and pieces of McCoy's thing, from Chick Corea to Horace Tapscott to Geri Allen and so on. Legit, listen to Flying Lotus's "Never Catch Me"-

-and you'll hear the echoes, a couple of generations removed, of the equation that McCoy was the first one to solve.

RIP, sir.

Edited by ep1str0phy
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RIP.  I first heard McCoy on Milestone Jazzstars in Concert at 5 or 6 years old, one of the few good albums my aunt ever got me-- and I think I was taken by that commanding sense and those long sustained trills.  I had gotten seriously into Trane at 13 and that was the start of the journey.  This loss really sucks.

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Saw him a number of times over the years. The first being at Keystone Korner during the stint where they recorded Atlantis in '74. I wish I could remember more about that show! More recently I saw him once or twice when he was looking quite frail, but when he sat down at the piano he still had that spark.

RIP, McCoy!


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Don’t know what to say. One the all time greats and one of my favorite piano players. The stuff he made for Blue Note and Milestone are from a rare consistent quality. Also a beautiful person.

Unfortunately I never saw him in real life. God I hate myself. Some 12 or 14 years ago he was in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw. I was 16 years old making a 100 euros a month with my parttime student job. A ticket was 50 euros or so. Found it a bit expensive and thought: Ah hè will probably come again within a few years. He never did... it was the last chance to see him and I didn’t go :(

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14 hours ago, sidewinder said:

That would be the last UK tour I guess, around 2006/2007. I saw him then too and yes - very frail looking when walking across the stage. I think it was part of a double bill with Joshua Redman.

Further to this, did a check - it was 2008 and Joe Lovano was in McCoy’s group. Bath Forum.


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