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Lennie Tristano

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Album Review

Even though the music on this LP has yet to be made available on CD, it gets the highest rating because the performances are so unique. Pianist Lennie Tristano is heard with his finest group, a sextet with altoist Lee Konitz, tenor-saxophonist Warne Marsh, guitarist Billy Bauer, bassist Arnold Fishkin, and either Harold Granowsky or Denzil Best on drums. Their seven selections include some truly remarkable unisons on "Wow," memorable interplay by the horns on "Sax of a Kind," and the earliest examples of free improvisation in jazz: "Intuition" and "Digression." In addition, the set features clarinetist Buddy DeFranco with vibraphonist Teddy Charles in a sextet on three numbers and backed by a big band for two others; the radical "A Bird in Igor's Yard" was composed and arranged by George Russell. This essential LP (which is subtitled Capitol Jazz Classics Vol. 14) concludes with a feature for trombonist Bill Harris on Neal Hefti's "Opus 96." Consistently brilliant and advanced music.


Born: 19 March 1919 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

The history of jazz is written as a recounting of the lives of its most famous (and presumably, most influential) artists. Reality is not so simple, however. Certainly the most important of the music's innovators are those whose names are known by all — Armstrong, Parker, Young, Coltrane. Unfortunately, the jazz critic's tendency to inflate the major figures' status often comes at the expense of other musicians' reputations — men and women who have made significant, even essential, contributions...
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