Lennie Tristano


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This second volume in the chronological Classics anthology of Lennie Tristano from his Capitol and Prestige recordings is where the mature composer and improviser appears from his former skeleton. Beginning with the original version of "Dissonance," featuring guitarist Billy Bauer and bassist Arnold Fishkin, the set concentrates on Tristano's emerging and very complex ideas about melodic improvisation. The masters for early tracks here come from a session cut on New Year's Eve in 1947, and include clarinetist John LaPorta on such visionary compositions as "Through These Portals," with its dual melodic front line playing an extrapolated harmonic counterpoint via the piano and guitar, then being bridged by a common third line played by LaPorta, whose solo is almost a tag upon the two entwining solo lines played throughout. "Speculation" is pure chordal genius, with rhythms cascading in two directions against a nearly expressionistic melodic integration of variously shaded harmonics. The first sessions of both the quintet and quartet with Lee Konitz are here, too, with Konitz's unique phrasing on the shimmering bop of "Progression," "Tautology," and, of course, "Subconscious-Lee." Tristano was a giant of the intellect, and his knotty approach to deconstructing harmonics and creating new melodies from the ruins appealed to Konitz, who was, and remains, a melodist. Later that same year, in 1949, Tristano added second saxophonist Warne Marsh to the mix, and that magical pairing found its voice on the front lines of "Crosscurrent," "Intuition," and the stellar "Marionette." Finally, the 1951 trio sides with Roy Haynes and Peter Ind make clear that these new architectures Tristano was building could be erected by himself and a rhythm section, and in some ways were even bigger as a result of that. These ideas have never been fully integrated into the jazz canon as they should be, but nonetheless, with recordings like this abounding now, it cannot be long before they are.

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