Tuesday, October 23, 2007

McCoy Tyner

This poem remembers my seeing/hearing jazz pianist McCoy Tyner and group play in Berkeley--probably almost exactly 30 years ago: yikes. I'd certainly seen/heard jazz pianists attack the piano before--but nothing like Tyner did. He and the piano seemed to be having a boxing match, and yet great music came out. At one point some strings did, too. He broke them banging on the piano so hard.



in Berkeley, smoke like Bay fog lay
over heads of cool-hip-jazz-club-clientele &
waitresses slivered through tables/bodies/chairs,
kept drinks coming, ice and glass and liquid held aloft &


--he hit the mthrfckn keys
so hard one time strings
popped & whipped around like snakes out
‘the belly of the grand dark


& the percussionist had some
weird shit hanging from racks—
bones, steel tubes, feathers—


humid and scratchy and knock-talk
click-back bicker-bock-a-zone

sounds, & McCoy was rippin and roarin,
working the shit


of keyboardedness. And the horns. It was a big
marrow-filling, ear-enlightening night. Night-outside:
cool, misty Berkeley. Had a look around.
Got in the ’67 Camaro, drove back up I-80
to plain brown-cow Davis,


humming like the lowest pianoforte
E-note pedaled through the measures.

Copyright 2007 Hans Ostrom

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