Stéphan Oliva


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Pianist Lennie Tristano is now considered as the pioneer of free jazz. This lesser-known figure of jazz history is the subject of Stéphan Oliva and François Raulin's CD, Tristano. The two French pianists revisit some of the Chicagoan's compositions and add their own derivative pieces. What better setting is there than two pianos to emphasize Tristano's fondness for contrapuntal lines? The two players burn ivory on "Line Up" and "Lennie-Bird." But if the avant-garde-tinged renditions of the master's material have their charm, the interest resides in the originals. "Après April" is mostly bop, while "East Ogan" is part free jazz and part contemporary classical, giving the album a wide range of colors. Yet, in the end, this CD turns out to be more conservative than the material the label Émouvance usually puts out. Highlights include the delicate "Requiem" and the ferocious "Victory." There are examples of both pianists trying to outplay each other ("Down the Line"), but in general the performance remains under control, complementary, and most of all respectful of Lennie Tristano's vision, if not a little detached.

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