McCoy Tyner, piano virtuoso and jazz icon, passes away at 81

Alfred McCoy Tyner passed away yesterday at the age of 81; eight decades of passion and expression after placing his hands on the ivory keys for the first time at the age of 13.

The piano virtuoso most famously a part of John Coltrane’s quartet pursued a career in which he forged his own legacy, laying down teachings for all who came after.

McCoy Tyner, one of jazz music’s original icons, has died at the age of 81. His family confirmed the news with a statement yesterday.

Tyner’s family released a statement mentioning “McCoy Tyner’s music and legacy will continue to inspire fans and future talent for generations to come.” The family went on to say “McCoy was an inspired musician who devoted his life to his art, his family and his spirituality.”

Tyner had a career revered by many in the music industry, born in 1938 and starting a career in the ’50s. Raised in Philadelphia, he was refining his skills during the time of Bud Powell, Red Garland, Jimmy Smith, and other jazz icons around the city.

His apex through the ’60s playing with John Coltrane saw him reach a new level of stardom. He was young and talented, and his unique style quickly saw other up-and-coming musicians imitating him.

He debuted his first record in 1962 and went on to perform and record many more during his 68-year career, inspiring some of the modern greats after working with some of the genre’s icons. In 2002 he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, arguably the highest honour in US jazz and appropriately so.

To a great 81 years, we leave you with words from the man himself:

“I play what I live. Therefore, just as I can’t predict what kinds of experiences I’m going to have, I can’t predict the directions in which my music will go. I just want to write and play my instrument as I feel.”