Lennie Tristano

Requiem [Giants of Jazz]

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Towards the end of the 20th century, the Giants of Jazz reissue label came out with a series of compilations that paid tribute to the amazingly creative musical mind of Lennie Tristano. Requiem offers 13 tracks recorded in New York City between the years 1949 and 1955, beginning with a pair of piano solos (the gnarly overdubbed "Turkish Mambo" and the beautiful reflective blues "Requiem") along with two studies for trio involving bassist Peter Ind and drummer Jeff Morton. "East Thirty-Second" was named for the address of Tristano's home recording studio, where these first four titles were taped in 1954 and 1955. Tracks five through nine and track 11 were distilled from the first and fourth of a five-set marathon recording session that took place live in the Sing Song Room of the Confucius Restaurant on June 11, 1955 with saxophonist Lee Konitz, drummer Art Taylor and bassist Gene Ramey, whose eventful career traces a trajectory from Lester Young through Charlie Parker to Lennie Tristano. Originally released on the Atlantic label, these wonderfully cohesive and consistently inspired performances still convey the intimate immediacy of relaxed collective improvisation. "Sax of a Kind" was extracted from the Capitol recording session of May 16, 1949, with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh in front of Tristano, guitarist Billy Bauer, bassist Arnold Fishkin and drummer Denzil Best. For dessert the producers tacked on the short takes from the famous RCA Metronome All Stars date of January 3, 1949, stoked by a formidable 13-piece ensemble with a front line made up of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Charlie Ventura, J.J. Johnson, Buddy DeFranco and Ernie Caceres. Legend has it that Bird deliberately feigned befuddlement at Pete Rugolo's arrangement in order to stall for time and draw a few unionized "Overtime" dollars for himself and his 12 session mates. Tristano's "Victory Ball" helped to establish a modern tradition that was still bearing fruit when Anthony Braxton included it on his hatART album Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions 1989 for Warne Marsh.

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