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 might be rambunctious, however these musicians step and hear fastidiously.


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


KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Lennie Tristano getting down with the blues, earthy music at odds together with his popularity 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 might 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.


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 Data. The choice by daughter Carol Tristano goals to point out Lennie had extra moods that he could get credit score for. He might additionally sound playful and relaxed, letting the music breathe.


WHITEHEAD: On this new field drawn from Lennie Tristano’s residence recordings and reside 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, particularly 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.


WHITEHEAD: Lee Konitz – I’ve buried the lede on this overview. What actually has Tristano followers buzzing about these basement tapes is a trove of free improvisations Lennie and firm recorded at residence in 1948. That was a yr earlier than his studio tracks, typically recognized as the primary free jazz on report, 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 might be rambunctious, however these musicians step and hear fastidiously. You possibly can hear the Bach behind it, one instrumental voice imitating one other.


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 Fifties nightclub gig with out stunning the viewers within the slightest. Their free play is as orderly as their jamming on normal chord progressions.


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


WHITEHEAD: Drummer Max Roach as soon as mentioned of Tristano – I am paraphrasing – we uptown Black musicians and Lennie’s downtown white guys admired one another and will play collectively no drawback. 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 mentioned, that you can respect and recognize. Tristano did not all the time get his due, however by now, listeners have come round. Jazz does, in spite of everything, have a tender spot for maverick pianists who plow their very own furrow, trusting that sometime the general public will catch up.


GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the writer of the e book “Play The Method 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 lecturers in a majority Black, under-resourced elementary college 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 opinions 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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