Weekend Extra: Standard McCoy Tyner

For all of the excitement with modes that McCoy Tyner generated with John Coltrane and still achieves in long his post-Coltrane career, I have always been partial to Tyner’s way with standard songs and jazz originals with standard changes in albums like this and this.

That aspect of his playing is brilliant in this video from the 1987 Mount Fuji Festival in Japan. Ron Carter is the bassist, Joe Chambers the drummer.

Ethan Iverson featured that video recently in his Do The Math blog. Jim Harrod, moderator of the Jazz West Coast listserve, found it through Ethan. I found it through Jim. Thanks, guys. Networking works.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit


  1. says

    Thanks for posting this clip. That’s typical 1980’s “olympic” jazz, as I heard it being played by many, far too many groups back then.

    The early McCoy Tyner, the one who played with John Coltrane, is still my favorite. His later period, the 1970’s & 1980’s aren’t my cup of tea anymore.

    McCoy seems to be getting overwhelmed here by his own, admittedly superb technique. The delicate approach – also at faster, heavier numbers – of his Coltrane days had yielded to sometimes violently sounding, hasty power play like at this video clip.

    You’ve mentioned two of McCoy’s masterful trio albums, Doug, and I want to add another, very lighthearted, really swinging one: McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington (1965).

    Funny side note: If you wanna hear “C Jam Blues” in Bb, go for this album. McCoy really made himself at home there, at “Duke’s Place”, but he brought along new furniture.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      Bruno, the early McCoy Tyner was in action before his years with Coltrane. He joined Art Farmer’s and Benny Golson’s Jazztet in 1959 when he was 19. You can hear him with the Jazztet on this 1960 recording of Farmer’s “Mox Nix.” Coltrane hired him later that year.

      (Art Farmer, trumpet; Benny Golson, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Addison Farmer, bass; Lex Humphries, drums. February, 1960)

      • says

        Yeah, Doug! Thanks for the tip. This LP will be next on my want-list. McCoy had a furious start, similar to Sonny Rollins, or Lee Morgan who did their first impressive recordings in their late teens.

        By the way: Sonny’s tune Audubon is not only referring to the jazz venue with that name, it’s – like “Mox Nix” – a Germanism too: Audubon = Autobahn = highway 😉

        … ??? — Further research some minutes ago by using a modern technology, called internet, has destroyed my above theory: It’s the last name of a famous ornithologist: John James Audubon :)

        But since it’s too funny to be wrong, feel free to take it as a satiric off-topic intermezzo.

        Macht nix, okay?

  2. David says

    This brought back memories of hearing McCoy in the ’80s playing at, of all places, a discotheque. We arrived at the scheduled time but had to sit through well over an hour of deafening disco waiting for the band. The style of dancing at this South Dallas club was unusual. The dancers affected a limp pose with their bodies distorted at odd angles and heads hanging low. The impression was of people so oppressed by life (or drugs?) that their bodies had been crushed into these disjointed angular shapes. Eventually a piano tuner arrived and, in the midst of the ear-splitting din, proceeded to “tune” the piano! Finally the band appeared. McCoy was pounding the keys pretty hard in those days and anything the tuner might have somehow accomplished was surely undone by the end of the set.

    I heard McCoy again a few years ago at an outdoor festival. This time the trio’s efforts were sabotaged by the sound man. For some reason this guy had decided that a certain frequency needed an extreme eq boost. This frequency was right in the middle of the bassist’s preferred register. Every time he hit this particular note, which was often, there was a burst of loud distortion from the p.a. speakers. A friend was sitting behind a lady who insisted on gabbing loudly throughout the entire performance. Eventually he was provoked into saying “excuse me but the gentleman on the stage is a world famous musician and some of us are trying to enjoy the concert, would you mind keeping it down a bit?” She gave him a look that clearly said “What planet are you from? We’re here to party and have a good time, why don’t you just crawl back into whatever hole you came out of!”

  3. SeptemberintheRain says

    Sounds a bit like a hyper-nervous Erroll Garner. And not in a bad way 😉

  4. Ken says

    Thanks for this! I heard Tyner a good many times with his regular trio in the 80’s, with Avery Sharpe and, first, Louis Hayes and, then, Aaron Scott. This brings back those wonderful memories.