Lennie Tristano Biography (BBC)
A pianist of exceptional co-ordination and skill, for whom playing in different metres with each hand held no terrors, Lennie Tristano overcame blindness to become one of the leading teachers in jazz. While he was studying for his music degree in Chicago in the early 1940s, he had already begun playing and working with a circle of musicians who became his pupils - including saxophonist Lee Konitz and guitarist Billy Bauer.
Tristano mastered the bebop style, playing both intricate runs and sustained chordal passages, and by the late 1940s was working in New York, where he made some significant discs with the musicians who had developed bebop - notably Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. But his own musical direction involved exploring ideas of both freedom and abstraction, together with a 'cool' atmosphere.
He formed a sextet, that included some of his former pupils and tenorist Warne Marsh, and their work paralleled much of the experimentation of Gil Evans and Miles Davis. In the early 1950s, Tristano opened his own jazz school, and for the rest of his life he focussed on teaching rather than playing.
His pupils included many significant figures in jazz, all of whom benefitted from his rigorous analysis of classic jazz performances, and the scalar and harmonic exercises he developed. He appeared in public from time to time in the 1960s but his best playing on record dates from the late 1940s, when his blend of innovation and technical perfection was at its height.
Lennie Tristano Biography (Wikipedia)
Leonard Joseph "Lennie" Tristano (March 19, 1919 – November 18, 1978) was an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and teacher of jazz improvisation.
Tristano studied for bachelor's and master's degrees in music in Chicago before moving to New York City in 1946. He played with leading bebop musicians and formed his own small bands, which soon displayed some of his early interests – contrapuntal interaction of instruments, harmonic flexibility, and rhythmic complexity. His quintet in 1949 recorded the first free group improvisations. Tristano's innovations continued in 1951, with the first overdubbed, improvised jazz recordings, and two years later, when he recorded an atonal improvised solo piano piece that was based on the development of motifs rather than on harmonies. He developed further via polyrhythms and chromaticism into the 1960s, but was infrequently recorded.
Tristano started teaching music, especially improvisation, in the early 1940s, and by the mid-1950s was concentrating on teaching in preference to performing. He taught in a structured and disciplined manner, which was unusual in jazz education when he began. His educational role over three decades meant that he exerted an influence on jazz through his students, including saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.
Lennie Tristano Tracks