Lennie Tristano’s private stash of recordings reveal a trove of free improvisations : NPR


Regardless of the poor sound high quality, Tristano’s newly unearthed Private Recordings from 1946-1970 are fascinating. Free jazz could be rambunctious, however these musicians step and pay attention rigorously.



TERRY GROSS, HOST:

That is FRESH AIR. Jazz pianist Lennie Tristano did not make many industrial recordings or carry out so usually in nightclubs. However at house in New York, he taught tons of of scholars and recorded myriad hours of his personal music. A brand new field set digs deep into Tristano’s non-public stash of house and stay recordings. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a pay attention.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Lennie Tristano getting down with the blues, earthy music at odds along with his status for being a coolly analytical improviser who’s a bit above all of it. His favourite pianist and massive affect was bebop large Bud Powell. However Lennie leaned into longer, busier strains. You can hear the Bach he’d studied come out when he received actually busy. He can sound like his proper hand is a harpsichord and his left is a jazzy strolling bass, two streams flowing collectively.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

WHITEHEAD: Lennie Tristano within the early Nineteen Sixties from the six-CD field “Private Recordings 1946-1970,” co-produced by the labels Dot Time and the online order home Mosaic Information. The choice by daughter Carol Tristano goals to point out Lennie had extra moods that he could get credit score for. He may additionally sound playful and relaxed, letting the music breathe.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

WHITEHEAD: On this new field drawn from Lennie Tristano’s house recordings and stay dates, he performs in solo duo, trio, quartet, quintet and sextet settings. All of it begins in 1946, when his core gamers begin becoming a member of up, specifically guitarist Billy Bauer and like-minded saxophonists Warne Marsh on tenor and Lee Konitz on alto. Right here all of them are at Carnegie Corridor in 1949.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO’S “SAX OF A KIND”)

WHITEHEAD: Lee Konitz – I’ve buried the lede on this assessment. What actually has Tristano followers buzzing about these basement tapes is a trove of free improvisations Lennie and firm recorded at house in 1948. That was a yr earlier than his studio tracks, typically recognized as the primary free jazz on file, though saxophonist Bud Freeman and drummer Ray McKinley had beat them to it in 1945 with the duet “The Atomic Period.”

Tristano’s newly unearthed quartet improvisations are fascinating, regardless of the poor sound high quality caught on a wire recorder. Free jazz could be rambunctious, however these musicians step and pay attention rigorously. You possibly can hear the Bach behind it, one instrumental voice imitating one other.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

WHITEHEAD: Even higher than these seven free items for quartet, we additionally hear Tristano’s sextet slip a extra assured free improvisation right into a Nineteen Fifties nightclub gig with out stunning the viewers within the slightest. Their free play is as orderly as their jamming on commonplace chord progressions.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

WHITEHEAD: A lot of the music within the new Lennie Tristano field was recorded at his house. Jazz is a social music, so working from house has its disadvantages, not least as a profession transfer. However Tristano left behind a lot precious work for us to find. A disc of well-recorded solo music here’s a standout.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

WHITEHEAD: Drummer Max Roach as soon as stated of Tristano – I am paraphrasing – we uptown Black musicians and Lennie’s downtown white guys admired one another and will play collectively no downside. However Lennie’s crew had their very own scene and magnificence, completely different from what we have been doing. It was one thing, Max Roach stated, that you might respect and respect. Tristano did not at all times get his due, however by now, listeners have come round. Jazz does, in spite of everything, have a gentle spot for maverick pianists who plow their very own furrow, trusting that sometime the general public will catch up.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNIE TRISTANO COMPOSITION)

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the creator of the e-book “Play The Means You Really feel: The Important Information To Jazz Tales On Movie.” He reviewed “Lennie Tristano Private Recordings 1946-1970.” Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, my visitor will probably be Quinta Brunson, the creator and star of the brand new hit ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary” in regards to the academics in a majority Black, under-resourced elementary faculty in Philadelphia. Her mom taught in such a faculty. Brunson received her begin as a standup comedian and the creator of quick comedian on-line movies. I hope you may be a part of us.

FRESH AIR’s government producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and critiques are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Kayla Lattimore. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the present. I am Terry Gross.

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