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When Sunny Gets Blue: Remembering McCoy Tyner (1938 - 2020)


News | Mar, 6th 2020

McCoy Tyner was truly a legendary figure in jazz. As a member of the John Coltrane Quartet from 1960–1965, Tyner made invaluable contributions to some of jazz’s greatest concerts and albums, including A Love SupremeLive at the Village Vanguard, and My Favorite Things. As both a leader and a sideman, Tyner recorded over 100 albums with masters like Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Wayne Shorter. Tyner’s technical virtuosity brought clarity to a distinctive musical language. 

Tyner was both an NEA Jazz Master and a member of our Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.

Jazz at Lincoln Center's staff shared their memories of McCoy and his outsized influence on jazz below.

McCoy Tyner was one of our great American originals. His piano sound and style were unlike any other. Virtuosity and virtue, soul and sophistication, tenderness and thunder; all delivered with pinpoint accuracy and concentrated intensity. A composer, bandleader and performer of unquestionable authority, proficiency and integrity, there isn’t a quality pianist playing the music today who can’t reach for some “McCoy” in their sound (when they need him). With his passing, we have lost an entire world of irreplaceable information and experience. But with the passage of time, that universe will certainly enrich and redefine the foundation of our jazz DNA. He is already missed.
-Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director

McCoy. Just his name evokes a wash of unbelievably unforgettable musical moments. I was fortunate to work with him for two weeks a year for six years at Yoshi’s, putting together all-star ensembles for him to shine and elevate everyone around him. You never heard Brecker sound better or more inspired, than when in the presence of and on the bandstand with McCoy and his thunderous left hand and sparkling right. Or, for that matter, any of his other Yoshi’s collaborators like Redman or Lovano or Hutcherson or Mongo or El Negro or Bartz or Blade or McBride or Fortune or Harper or Henderson or Roditi or Turre or Paquito or Gonzalez or Orestes or Tain or Charnett or Fortune or Sepulveda or Sanchez...and the list goes on. A titan of this music with such sweet charm and deep soul, generous in spirit and an inspiration to all who knew or heard him. I will miss you McCoy. Thank you for the memories.
-Jason Olaine, Director of Programming and Touring

Every jazz musician alive is indebted to McCoy Tyner.
-Kenny Rampton, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

RIP master McCoy Tyner. Thank you for everything that you have given to us and for all that you have done.
-Dan Nimmer, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra




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We sat down with saxophonist Azar Lawrence to hear what it was like playing with McCoy Tyner on some of Tyner's most acclaimed recordings and what he learned from our 2017 Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame inductee.


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