Pete Recommends…Lennie Tristano – Quintet Live at Birdland
Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
The Lennie Tristano Quintet
Live at Birdland 1949 +
Lennie Tristano Solos 1945
When I wrote my recommendation for last month it brought back many memories. Both Mike Shera and Alun Morgan introduced me to the work of the great pianist and teacher Lennie Tristano. Thanks to Alun’s generosity I have an almost complete collection of Lennie’s recordings plus Alun’s BBC Broadcasts, “The Influential Recluse”. I have also had the chance to talk about Lennie with the bass player Peter Ind, who played with him on many occasions. This CD captures Lennie at the height of his fame as a performer with two of his most important associates Warne Marsh on tenor sax and Billy Bauer on guitar. Only my favourite, Lee Konitz, is missing. But my very special recommendation here is the set of 4 piano solos which Lennie recorded in Chicago in 1949, before his move to New York. They are precious examples of his work and worthy of study by any aspiring jazz pianist. Typical of the arrogant confidence of his playing is a version of “What is This Thing Called Love”, where he improvises the first chorus with his left hand. It is great that we still have this solo available for study.
[ “The Lennie Tristano Quintet Live at Birdland + Piano Solos” was re-issued on Jazz Records CD JR 1CD. The solo, “This is Called Love”, was transcribed by Brian Priestley for his book “Jazz Piano 3”. Peter Ind’s excellent book about Lennie, “Jazz Visions” was published by Equinox in 2005.]
Photo of Lennie Tristano by William Gottlieb.