One Master Pianist Celebrates Another

Although British pianist Pat Thomas seems a touch too concerned with emphasizing the oppression of African-American musicians and playing up their links to African mentoring traditions in this Wire essay, he does offer some insight into the influence of the late American pianist McCoy Tyner on music in general. First he lists some of the negative generalities whites came up with in the 1960s when faced with experimental Jazz. Then he outlines Tyner’s piano apprenticeship. His theory is that the older pianist’s interactions with innovators like bassist Jimmy Garrison, multi-reedist Eric Dolphy and especially saxophonist John Coltrane’s constant experiments helped shape Tyner’s own career as player, bandleader and composer.  For himself, Thomas cites 1973’s “Enlightenment Suite” featuring Tyner with tenor saxophonist Azar Lawrence, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and bassist Juni Booth as a favorite. Besides his views on Tyner, note what Thomas thinks about John Cage’s music.