James Moody told me that his Georgia-born grandmother said one morning while looking through the newspaper, “Folks is dyin’ what ain’t never died befo’.” The trend continues, as It always has and, if human suscsceptibility is a guide, always will. Recently, the parade of departures resumed when the jazz world lost two giants in their nineties, McCoy Tyner and William O. Smith. Smith (pictured left) a clarinetist, composer, teacher and formidable arranger, was 93.
Encouraged by the classical composer Darius Milhaud when he studied with Milhaud at Mills College, Smith formed an octet with Dave Brubeck in the early 1950s. In recent decades he was a professor of music at the University of Washington.
From late in their careers, here are Smith, Brubeck and the Montreal Festival Orchestra playing one of Brubeck’s most beloved compositions, “Blue Rondo ala Turk.”
For a thorough obituary of Bill Smith, see Paul de Barros in The Seattle Times.
McCoy Tyner attracted significant attention when he emerged from Philadelphia as the pianist in Art Farmer’s and Benny Golson’s Jazztet in 1959. He achieved widespread fame after he became a member of John Coltrane’s quartet the following year. His rich harmonies and mastery of demanding rhythms were at the core of what made Coltrane’s group one of the most successful in all of music during Tyner’s five years as a member.
Tyner died at 81 at his home in New Jersey. Here he is in concert on the British Broadcasting Corporation in 2002 with Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Charnett Moffet on bass and Eric Harland playing drums. The composition is one of Tyner’s most famous, “Naima.”
McCoy Tyner, RIP.