NEW YORK – The influential jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, known for his work with the John Coltrane quartet, has died, his family announced Friday. He was 81 years old.
One of the most revered jazz pianists in history in an elite class with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Chick Corea, Tyner’s work is considered to have shaped the trajectory of modern jazz piano and made him a top band leader for decades.
Alfred McCoy Tyner, born in 1938 in Philadelphia, began taking piano lessons at age 13. He kicked off his career in his early 20s with the Jazztet, led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer.
By 1960 the inventive composer and pianist joined saxophonist John Coltrane’s famed quartet, playing on now iconic records including “A Love Supreme” and “My Favorite Things.”
Tyner was the last living member of the classic quartet, who along with Coltrane included Jim Garrisson on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
Tyner went on to have a flourishing solo career and taught in his later years.
Asked in 2008 his secret to longevity, Tyner told NPR: “I like carrot juice. Carrot juice is real good for you. Carrot and celery. Don’t forget celery.”
“To me living and music are all the same thing,” he was quoted on his Facebook page as saying. “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.”