McCoy Tyner, 81, a cornerstone of John Coltrane’s groundbreaking 1960s quartet and one of the most influential pianists in jazz history, died Friday at his home in northern New Jersey. No other details were available.
Along with Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and only a few others, Tyner was one of the main expressways of modern jazz piano. Nearly every jazz pianist since Tyner’s years with Coltrane has had to learn his lessons, whether they ultimately discarded them or not. His sound was rich, percussive and serious, his lyrical improvisations centered by powerful left-hand chords marking the first beat of the bar and the tonal center of the music. Coltrane described Tyner as “the one who gives me wings.”
Gray Kunz, 65, the Swiss chef who grew up in Singapore, cooked in Hong Kong and broadened New York’s vision of fine dining in the 1990s at luxurious Manhattan restaurant Lespinasse, died Thursday in a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. The cause was a stroke.
In 1994, his cooking at Lespinasse received a four-star review from The New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, who cited its “Old World” comforts combined with “aggressive” and “exciting” flavors. At his death, he was in charge of two restaurants, both called Café Gray Deluxe, in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Amory Houghton Jr., 93, who stepped down as head of his family’s venerable glass works corporation to serve for two decades as a wealthy congressman from upstate New York, becoming a leading moderate Republican voice who defied his party’s hard-right turn, died Wednesday at his home in Corning, New York.
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, 100, two-term United Nations secretary-general who brokered a historic cease-fire between Iran and Iraq in 1988 and who in later life came out of retirement to help reestablish democracy in his Peruvian homeland, died Wednesday at home of natural causes. Current U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the Peruvian diplomat a “personal inspiration.”
When Pérez de Cuéllar began his tenure as U.N. secretary-general on Jan. 1, 1982, he was a little-known Peruvian who was a compromise candidate at a time when the United Nations was held in low esteem. Serving as U.N. undersecretary-general for special political affairs, he emerged as the dark horse candidate in December 1981 after a six-week election deadlock between U.N. chief Kurt Waldheim and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Salim Ahmed Salim.
Once elected, he quickly made his mark.
Bobbie Battista, 67, one of the original anchors of CNN Headline News and a veteran of various anchor jobs at CNN over two decades, died of cervical cancer Tuesday in Davenport, Iowa. After joining Headline News for its launch in 1982, she was later promoted to the parent Cable News Network, where she anchored coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the Persian Gulf War and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Charles “Chuck” Trimble, 84, Oglala Lakota journalist and activist, a former leader of the National Congress of American Indians and founder of the American Indian Press Association, died Monday of natural causes in Omaha, Nebraska.
He was born in Wanblee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and attended the then-Holy Rosary Mission boarding school. He graduated from the University of South Dakota, served in the U.S. Army and later studied journalism at the University of Colorado.
Among his accomplishments, he helped start a newspaper on the Colville Reservation in Washington state to inform people about the implication of termination, the federal government’s effort from the 1940s to the 1960s to disband tribes, Indian Country Today reported.
Henry N. Cobb, 93, who in 70 years as an architect — more than half of them in partnership with I.M. Pei — designed some of the country’s most prominent buildings, including Boston’s blue-glass John Hancock Tower, the tallest building in New England, died Monday at home in Manhattan.
James Lipton, 93, who plumbed the dramatic arts through perceptive, mostly admiring interviews with celebrity actors as host of the Bravo television series “Inside the Actors Studio,” died Monday at his home in Manhattan. The cause was cancer.
James Lipton was a knowledgeable interviewer who focused on craft while avoiding gossip, winning the trust of his famous guests as well as an international audience. During his 23-season run as host — he left the show when it moved from Bravo to Ovation TV in 2019 — “Inside the Actors Studio” became a coveted stop for writers, directors and performers, who would give some of their longest and most unguarded interviews to Lipton.
Ernesto Cardenal, 95, the renowned poet and Roman Catholic cleric who became a symbol of revolutionary verse in Nicaragua and around Latin America, and whose suspension from the priesthood by St. John Paul II lasted over three decades, died March 1. Known for his trademark black beret and loose white peasant shirts, the author of works such as “Epigrams” and “Zero Hour” was one of the most important and honored poets in Nicaraguan history.
“I try to live with the message of the gospel,” Cardenal once said, “which is a political message, which is changing the world so that there is a better world after 100,000 years of inequality.”
Freeman J. Dyson, 96, mathematical prodigy who left his mark on subatomic physics before turning to messier subjects like Earth’s environmental future and the morality of war, died Feb. 28 at a hospital near Princeton, New Jersey.
As a graduate student at Cornell in 1949, he wrote a landmark paper — worthy, some colleagues thought, of a Nobel Prize — that deepened the understanding of how light interacts with matter to produce the palpable world. The theory the paper advanced, called quantum electrodynamics, or QED, ranks among the great achievements of modern science.
But it was as a writer and technological visionary that he gained public renown. He imagined exploring the solar system with spaceships propelled by nuclear explosions and establishing distant colonies nourished by genetically engineered plants. “Life begins at 55, the age at which I published my first book,” he wrote in “From Eros to Gaia,” one of the collections of his writings that appeared while he was a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, an august position for someone who finished school without a Ph.D.
The lack of a doctorate was a badge of honor, he said. With his slew of honorary degrees and a fellowship in the Royal Society, people called him Dr. Dyson anyway.
Joyce Gordon, 90, who broke the glasses ceiling on the germinal days of television, died on Feb. 28 in New York.
“I’m not a glamour girl — most women aren’t,” she volunteered in a 1961 interview. “I’m an attractive, up-to-date young woman — glasses and all.”
Confident and, clinically, farsighted, Gordon became famous as “The Girl With the Glasses,” for unselfconsciously wearing her eyeglasses on camera as she delivered live, on-air advertising pitches for products like Crisco and Duncan Hines cake mixes. Gordon was also known for her voice-over talent, sought over by the film industry and radio programs.
Allen “Tex” Harris, 81, a U.S. diplomat who had a key role in exposing human rights abuses in Argentina in the late 1970s, when thousands of people were imprisoned and killed by the country’s military junta, died Feb. 23 at a hospital in Fairfax County, Virginia.