Home » Jazz Articles » Lennie Tristano: Abstraction & Improvisation

227
Album Review

Lennie Tristano: Abstraction & Improvisation

By

Sign in to view read count
Lennie Tristano: Abstraction & Improvisation
Pianist, composer and educator Lennie Tristano's place in the history of the music seems anomalous from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. His music was arguably as iconoclastic as that of Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's and equally of its time, but in contrast with that it can come across as colorless and one-dimensional. His influence has been limited to the likes of sax players Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz, though amongst his fellow pianists only names such as Connie Crothers and Ronnie Ball spring readily to mind as acolytes. He has thus remained something of an underground figure in the truest sense of that term.

This collection of sides recorded over the course of nearly a decade spanning the years from 1946 to 1955 is unlikely to change that, although it does amount to a snapshot of just how rarefied his music could be. A piece such as "On A Planet is something akin to unique within the whole jazz canon, not least because the interplay between Tristano and guitarist Billy Bauer predates the work of Bill Evans and Jim Hall in a similar setting by some years.

Indeed, the majority of the music here was cut in the piano-guitar-bass trio lineup so beloved of the likes of Art Tatum, and given this similarity it's nothing short of staggering how different the music of the two groups is. Where Tatum's trio was in some respects no more than a vehicle for his extraordinary technical prowess, here on "Celestia is a kind of formalism that again is as good as definable by what it is not. Tristano's slighted stilted rhythmic sense seems like the consequence of something other than any technical shortcoming.

When Konitz and Marsh come in on "Intuition their work sets the seal on the impression that this is ultimately paradoxical music, at one and the same time both of the jazz tradition yet also something unusually self-contained. The results can thus seem quite daunting in their individuality, and it's ultimately a matter of personal taste as to whether or not the effort this implies is worth making.

Track Listing

Untitled Blues; Blue Boy; Atonement; Coolin

Personnel

Lennie Tristano: piano; Billy Bauer: guitar (1-4, 8-19); Clyde Lombardi: bass (1); Bob Lieninger: bass (2-4); John Levy: bass (8-11); Arnold Fishkin: bass (12-19); Lee Konitz: alto saxophone (18, 19); Warne Marsh: tenor saxophone (18, 19); unidentified drummer (18, 19); Peter Ind: bass (20, 23, 26); Roy Haynes: drums (20, 21); Jeff Morton: drums (23, 26).

Album information

Title: Abstraction & Improvisation | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: FiveFour


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

In a Funk
The Justin Haynes Jazz Collective
Live In Lisbon
Ben Monder / Tony Malaby / Tom Rainey
Reminiscing at Rudy's
Houston Person

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.