The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and Symphony Center Presents join the world in mourning the death of jazz great McCoy Tyner. Hailed universally as one of the genre’s most influential pianists, he died March 6 at his home in New Jersey. He was 81.
Over his long career, Mr. Tyner appeared several times at Symphony Center, most recently in 2015 on the SCP Jazz series. Other concerts here came in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2009, the latter on his 71st birthday, Dec. 11.
His family issued this statement: “McCoy was an inspired musician who devoted his life to his art, his family and his spirituality. [His] music and legacy will continue to inspire fans and future talent for generations to come.”
In an interview for Sounds and Stories ahead of his 2015 concert, Mr. Tyner noted that his main influences were jazz piano greats Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum. “I loved them because they were so dedicated,” he said. “I’ve always tried to honor those who went before me.”
But it was Mr. Tyner’s association with the John Coltrane Quartet from 1960 to 1965 when his artistry truly blossomed. “He can take anything, no matter how weird, and make it sound beautiful,” Coltrane said of the pianist.
Fifty years later, he recalled of his formative years with Coltrane: “I was very young but musically the two of us jelled very well. He was a big brother to me, a constant inspiration. He was very creative. I learned a lot listening to him.”
Blue Note, the pianist’s longtime label, issued a statement via Twitter: “We’ve lost a titan with the passing of jazz legend #McCoyTyner. Words fail when trying to express how important McCoy was & always will be to our music. The amount of beauty he gave the world is simply staggering. RIP to one of the greatest of all-time.”