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McCoy Tyner

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Alfred McCoy Tyner (born 11 December 1938) is a jazz pianist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet and a long solo career.

Tyner was born in Philadelphia as the oldest of three children. He was encouraged to study piano by his mother. He finally began studying the piano at age 13 and within two years, music had become the focal point in his life. His early influences included Bud Powell, a Philadelphia neighbor. Among many other things, Tyner’s playing can be distinguished by a low bass left hand, in which he tends to raise his arm relatively high above the keyboard for an emphatic attack, creating at times a veritable tsunami of sound. Tyner’s unique right hand soloing is recognizable for a detached, or staccato quality, and descending arpeggios, both of a triadic shape and in other patterns. His unique approach to chord voicing has influenced a wide array of contemporary jazz pianists.

Tyner’s first main exposure came with Benny Golson being the first pianist in Golson’s and Art Farmer’s legendary Jazztet (1960). After departing the Jazztet, Tyner joined Coltrane’s group in 1960. (Coltrane had known Tyner for a while, and featured one of the pianist’s compositions, “The Believer”, as early as 1958.) He appeared on the saxophonist’s popular recording of “My Favorite Things” for Atlantic Records.

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