Eric Rasmussen

School of Tristano

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

School of Tristano Review

by Ken Dryden

Although he was far too young to have studied with Lennie Tristano, alto saxophonist Eric Rasmussen is a firm believer in the late pianist and teacher's approach to jazz, especially playing intricate reworkings of familiar chord changes. Guitarist Nate Radley is equally drenched in Tristano-school arrangements, so together with bassist Dave Ambrosio and in-demand drummer Matt Wilson (who seems like he takes part in hundreds of recording sessions every year), the group plays eight works created by Tristano and two of his earliest followers, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. But the quartet takes the original recordings as a launching pad for improvisation, relishing the tricky unison lines and counterpoint of the creators while also putting their own stamp on them in the process. So attentive listeners are still able to pick out the songs which inspired each of these pieces, including Tristano's challenging "317 E. 32nd Street" (based on "Out of Nowhere"), Marsh's furious "Background Music" ("All of Me") and a spacy treatment of Konitz's "Kary's Trance" ("Angel Eyes"). Rasmussen reworked "I Remember You" into a new composition "I Can't Remember," while Bailey transforms rocker Sting's hit "Every Breath You Take" into a Tristano-flavored piece ("Every Breath") with great success. While far too many people label Tristano's approach to jazz as "cold" and "unemotional" Rasmussen's quartet proves otherwise throughout this rewarding session, reviving the idea that musicians attentively listening to one another can produce more compelling results than simply playing it safe.

blue highlight denotes track pick