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Lennie Tristano

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Album Review

One of several Lennie Tristano retrospectives issued in 1998 by the Giants of Jazz label, this compilation is somewhat misleadingly subtitled "Featuring Lee Konitz." To be sure, alto saxophonist Konitz is heard in live performance with Tristano, bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Taylor in the cozy confines of the Sing Song Room deep within the Confucius Restaurant in New York on June 11, 1955. But this material only occupies the last three tracks, which amount to 21 out of 60 minutes of jazz. The rest of the music heard here — tracks one through eight — are piano solos recorded at Tristano's home studio (located at "317 East 32nd") during a time period extending from 1960 to 1962. The quartet recordings are as magnificent as the solo works are fascinating. This wonderful music improves with age, and one suspects that it will sound even better in the distant future. Listeners who fall in love with these sounds may wish to obtain more Lennie Tristano recordings. Some will need to hear them all and then will wish for more.


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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