How to Play Like McCoy Tyner
In this lesson we will take a look at one of the greatest musicians in modern jazz and stylistically probably the most copied pianist of all time.
McCoy Tyner was born December 11, 1938 in Philadelphia. He started playing classical piano at the age of 13. Early jazz influences were his neighbors Bud and Richie Powell.
McCoy’s first gig was with the Jazztet led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer. Soon after that he joined the John Coltrane Quartet, which would become one of the most important groups of the 60’s. This Quartet, together with the Miles Davis Quintet, would stretch the boundaries of modal jazz to the pinnacle. Great records from the group to check out are: Coltrane’s Sound, My Favorite Things, Ballads, A Love Supreme, Crescent, Live At the Birdland and Coltrane Plays the Blues.
Both during and after his time with Coltrane’s group, he recorded extensively as a sideman for other leaders and as a leader himself. Good albums from the 60’s to check out are his debut Inception, Nights Of Ballads and Blues, McCoy Tyner plays Ellington and The Real McCoy. The Real McCoy is considered one of the most important records of all time, and it is a great document of McCoy’s style, perfected by years with Coltrane’s group before.
Following the 1960’s he recorded extensively as a leader and sideman, using many different influences and styles. These included African and East Asian elements, and he used a range of instruments from koto to harpsichord and celeste.
For this course I have chosen a transcription of the first 64 bars of McCoy’s solo on Passion Dance from his masterpiece album The Real McCoy. This is a great example of modal improvisation over one chord, and perfectly demonstrates McCoy’s phrasing style.