Pianist McCoy Tyner recorded What the World Needs Now: The Music of Burt Bacharach on this date (March 5) in 1996. In many ways, the album was a departure for the pianist, who had long been known for his explosive, hard-edged work in saxophonist John Coltrane’s quartet of the 1960s. Here, he trades in his volcanic left-hand chords and heavy pentatonic lines for some rather gentle playing in the piano’s upper register, revealing a decidedly softer side to his musical character.
Joining Tyner on the effort were some of the hottest young sidemen at the time: bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash. And on some selections, the group was augmented by a symphony orchestra. For his subsequent album, Tyner chose once again to explore another artist’s songbook. Only this time, the artist was closer to his heart. Tyner Plays John Coltrane was recorded in 1997 and released in 2001. The contrasting moods of both albums demonstrate Tyner’s sprawling emotional range.