Lennie Tristano All Stars / Lennie Tristano

Live at the Café Bohemia

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This exciting compilation (which might more accurately have been called "Live at the Pied Piper and the Half Note") should come as a pleasant surprise to early modern jazz lovers, especially those who admire the work of pianist and philosopher Lennie Tristano. Tracks 1-5, credited to trombonist Bill Harris & His All Stars, were recorded in live performance on August 22, 1947 inside the Pied Piper at 15 Barrow Street in New York City's West Village. These tracks were released on LP in the '70s as Jazz Showcase 5001, A Knight in the Village. The Pied Piper mainly featured old-school jazz players like Wilbur De Paris and James P. Johnson, and wouldn't become the Café Bohemia until 1949 when it was purchased by one James Garofolo, who didn't adopt a rigorously progressive jazz policy until six years later. Bill Harris was a modernist associated with the bop-addled Woody Herman and Charlie Ventura bands. Tristano and tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips received feature billing, with the rest of the All-Stars, consisting of guitarist Billy Bauer, bassist Chubby Jackson, and drummer Denzil Best. On "Flip Meets Bill," Tristano was replaced by Argonne Thornton, who was on the verge of changing his name to Sadik Hakim. He is remembered for his work with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, and Lester Young, a master improviser who was one of Tristano's personal heroes.

The rest of the material presented here was recorded inside the Half Note at 289 Hudson Street on June 6, 1964 for use in a Look Up & Live television broadcast narrated by Dr. William Hamilton. Originally released on Tristano's Jazz Records label, tracks 6-8 feature saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh with bassist Sonny Dallas and drummer Nick Stabulas. If part of this lineup rings a few bells, note that in 1961, Konitz, Dallas, and Stabulas (as well as Elvin Jones) made a bunch of studio recordings for Verve which were released in 2007 on Universal's deluxe three-CD "Elite Edition" of Motion. That package, which fairly bristles with alternate takes, is recommended as a vibrant counterpart to this double reissue of uncommon location recordings which feature the predictably unpredictable Lennie Tristano.

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