McCoy Tyner is a Grammy winning jazz pianist who is famous for his key role in the John Coltrane’s quartet. He was born in Philadelphia and began to play the piano at 13 years old. Although Tyner was born in Philadelphia, his family roots are based in North Carolina, where both of his parents grew up. His father was also a lover of music and he sang in the church quartet. The piano that he received from his mother was kept at her salon where she encouraged him to get better and practice. The familial support he received for his music was crucial to his development as a young musician. He was also influenced by the percussionist Garvin Masseaux who is said to have aided in developing Tyner’s percussive sound. Tyler attended music institutions where he continued to refine his skills and prepare for one of the most influential jazz piano playing with Coltrane.
Tyner was born in 1938 and entered his early 20s in the late 50s and early 60s, which was an amazing time for jazz. Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan, Red Garland, Kenny Barron and Richie Powell were one of the few local jazz musicians that influenced Tyner.
Coltrane credits Tyner with allowing Coltrane to be able to play freely because he knew that Tyner held down the harmonies. Coltrane states “He’s sort of the one who gives me wings and lets me take off from the ground from time to time.” Although Tyner and Coltrane had undeniable musical chemistry, they also had a strong personal bond that strengthened their music. They formed a connection where Tyner felt as if he was Coltrane’s little brother and they shared their interests in spiritual wellness and a Higher Power. Tyner composed ‘The “Believer” that Coltrante recored in 1958 which led to the understanding that they would work together and Tyner would play piano for Coltarane’s band. Tyler was 21 years old when he was apart of Coltrane’s quartet and he played along with Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison.
In 1965 Tyner left the group because he said that the music had gotten to loud and “unwieldy” because Coltrane added extra horns and percussionists. After leaving Coltrane Tyner started to get into post bop and released “The Real McCoy,Tender Moments, Time for Tyner, Expansions” and more. Tyner played a key role in jazz and his work will be forever cherished. He passed away in March of 2020 and may he rest in peace.