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Inception: McCoy Tyner On Impulse

Pianist McCoy Tyner joined John Coltrane's group at the age of 22 in 1960 and signed with Impulse not long after Coltrane moved to the label in 1961.

Pianist McCoy Tyner joined John Coltrane’s group at the age of 22 in 1960 and signed with Impulse not long after Coltrane moved to the label in 1961. Over the next four years Tyner would record seven albums as a leader for Impulse, most often in the trio format that was seen as being both commercially favorable and a chance to showcase him in a setting different from the Coltrane quartet. Though Tyner’s playing on these records is considered not to be as adventurous as his performances with Coltrane during the same period, Tyner’s style–achieved somewhat by a prominent use of fourth chords, which gave both his and Coltrane’s music a more abstract, serious, and spiritual sound–is already quite present. Some albums find him in the company of bandmates Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones (their Illumination! effort for Impulse, from which we’ll hear Tyner’s ballad “Oriental Flower”), while Live at Newport features him in a rather impromptu jam with alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and trumpeter Clark Terry. Tyner’s last 1960s album for Impulse, Plays Duke Ellington, was recorded the same week that he was in the studio to do A Love Supreme with Coltrane.

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