This Day in Black History: Dec. 11, 1938

Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner was born.

Posted: 12/11/2012 03:28 PM EST
McCoy Tyner

Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is a Philly legend who's known for his compositions with the John Coltrane Quartet before breaking off and continuing to influence the genre through his solo career.

Tyner, born on Dec. 11, 1938, was encouraged by his mother to study the piano early on. During his teens, he had the opportunity to play with other jazz notables like Lee Morgan, the Heath Brothers, and, most important, saxophonist John Coltrane, who in 1960 asked Tyner to join his band.

Coltrane's album My Favorite Things featured Tyner's inventive piano playing, which grew to be a quintessential part of the band's sound. Tyner spent five years as a member of the Coltrane Quartet before moving on to explore his talents as a bandleader and soloist. He produced albums under Blue Note Records from 1967 to 1970 and then moved to the Milestone label.

His style is distinguished by his powerful low bass left hand and a right-hand staccato. He's also known for bringing in new sounds into his compositions such as African rhythms for his Grammy award-nominated album, Sahara.

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(Photo: AKIN FALOPE/Dalle /Landov)

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