Archive | October, 2012

McCoy Tyner: Autumn Leaves

18 Oct

the ultimate destination for autumn leaves

Spend a week in New England in October and see if Joseph Kosma’s song doesn’t hum in your head. There are versions with words and without, in English (lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and the original French (the poet Jacques Prevert), from Doris Day to Nat King Cole to Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton to John Coltrane to Keith Jarrett to Edith Piaf. It might save space to list who hasn’t performed Autumn Leaves.

I kept coming back last week to McCoy Tyner, perhaps because it was too cold to sing along. Tyner was 24 when he recorded the song in 1963 with bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Tootie Heath for his Today and Tomorrow album; fortunately, there have been a whole lot of tomorrows for Tyner, who will turn 74 just before the onset of winter, and is scheduled to play at a San Francisco jazz festival early in 2013 (tickets just went on sale this week; if only).

McCoy Tyner: Today And Tomorrow

McCoy Tyner’s 1964 album Today and Tomorrow

The album was just Tyner’s third as a leader, after My Favorite Things but before many more favorite collaborations with John Coltrane.

“Side two opens with Autumn Leaves by the trio,” wrote Bob Hammer in the album’s liner notes. “An introduction, also of modal construction, leads into McCoy’s thoughtful exposition of the tune. Jimmy Garrison is featured in an excellent walking solo.”

In its original French, the song was called Les feuilles mortes — “The Dead Leaves.” We like it with a little bit of life and a lot of McCoy.


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