Lennie Tristano (album)

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Lennie Tristano
Studio album by Lennie Tristano Quartet
Released February 1956[1]
Recorded 1954-55; June 11, 1955
Genre Jazz
Label Atlantic, London Records
Lennie Tristano Quartet chronology
Descent into the Maelstrom
Lennie Tristano
New York Improvisations
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]

Lennie Tristano, also known as Tristano, is a 1956 album by jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. At its release, the album was controversial for its innovative use of technology, with Tristano overdubbing piano and manipulating tape speed for effect on the first four tracks.[3] The final five songs are concert recordings. Originally released as Tristano's Atlantic Records debut, the album was released on CD in 1994 by Rhino Records in combined form with Tristano's 1960 follow-up, The New Tristano, and as part of a collection, The Complete Atlantic Recordings of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh, in 1997. It was subsequently re-issued in original form and track-list order by Warner Jazz (2002), Rhino (2003) and Collectables (2004).

In 1997, The New York Times dubbed the album a masterpiece.[4] AMG describes the album as "gorgeous...with a beautiful juxtaposition between the first half and the second half between the rhythmic and intervallic genius of Tristano as an improviser and as a supreme lyrical and swinging harmonist on the back half".[3]

Controversial innovation[edit]

According to Ira Gitler in The Masters of Be-Bop, the overdubbing and tape speed manipulation on this album unleashed a furor.[5] Tristano had begun experimenting in 1951, when he had additional piano tracks, some of which had been speeded by engineer Rudy van Gelder, added to his recording of the songs "Ju Ju" and "Pastime". Tristano later recalled that not a single reviewer questioned the multitracking of those songs.[5] According to Tristano, questions began to arise six months to a year later. At the time, Tristano declined to discuss it. In an interview years later, he described a private incident where Leonard Bernstein and Willie Kapell debated the topic in his home. After Bernstein declared his certainty that the songs were multitracked, Kapell demonstrated that the speed was possible by playing a Mozart tune 16 times faster than it would generally be played.[5]

Following the release of Lennie Tristano, the usage of multitracking and tape speed was widely questioned and criticized on the songs "Line Up", "Turkish Mambo" and "East Thirty-Second".[6] In the case of "Turkish Mambo", Tristano played three separate and conflicting piano tracks, with left-hand rhythms of five, six and seven beats beneath right-hand improvisation.[7] Tristano made specific reference to that song in defending his choice, stating that "[i]f I do multiple tapes, I don't feel I'm a phony thereby. Take "The Turkish Mambo". There is no other way I could do it so that I could get the rhythms to go together the way I feel them."[6] On the question of tape speed, he added, "If people want to think I speeded up the piano on "Line Up" and "East Thirty-Second", I don't care. What I care about is that the result sounded good to me."[6] Contributing bassist Peter Ind, inspired to later use the same technique on his own album Looking Out, argued on the contrary to those who feel this is a deceptive technique that it is simply another tool an artist may use to craft his work.[6]

Though controversial immediately on release, Tristano's decision to use the technique was described in 1997 by The New York Times as "celebrated".[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs composed by Lennie Tristano, unless otherwise noted.[8]

  1. "Line Up" – 3:34
  2. "Requiem" – 4:53
  3. "Turkish Mambo" – 3:41
  4. "East Thirty-Second" – 4:33
  5. "These Foolish Things" (Harry Link, Holt Marvell, Jack Strachey) – 5:46
  6. "You Go to My Head" (J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie) – 5:20
  7. "If I Had You" (Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Ted Shapiro) – 6:29
  8. "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You" (Bing Crosby, Ned Washington, Victor Young) – 6:07
  9. "All the Things You Are" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) – 6:11


1-4 Lennie Tristano's home studio, New York, 1954-1955[9]

5-9 The Sing-Song Room, Confucius Restaurant, New York, June 11, 1955[9]


  1. ^ Lennie Tristano / The New Lennie Tristano (Liner Notes). Lennie Tristano. USA: Rhino. 1994. 8122-71595-2 (Atlantic 1224). 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ a b Lennie Tristano at AllMusic
  4. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben (1997-12-14). "Jazz; A Flurry of Boxed Sets Wraps Up the Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  5. ^ a b c Gitler, Ira. http://books.google.com/books?id=PYBVxJdbpzIC&pg=PA226&lpg=PA226&dq=%22Lennie+Tristano%22&source=web&ots=aLqEVf4DQg&sig=gEjMgWWru5o-drwcORiYXqnYkZY&hl=en#PPA237,M1 |chapterurl= missing title (help). The Masters of Bebop: A Listener's Guide. Da Capo Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-306-81009-3. 
  6. ^ a b c d Gitler, 238.
  7. ^ Martin, Henry; Keith Waters. http://books.google.com/books?id=kuz4EHH05I4C&pg=PT264&lpg=PT264&dq=%22Lennie+Tristano%22&source=web&ots=7picngDp6I&sig=cbAiU5ylOhOxbifWFAgHbgVgryc&hl=en#PPT264,M17,M1 |chapterurl= missing title (help). Jazz: The First 100 Years. Thomson Wadsworth. p. 235. ISBN 0-534-62804-4. 
  8. ^ Songs and composers from Lennie Tristano at AllMusic. Track length information from Lennie Tristano (Warner Jazz) at AllMusic
  9. ^ a b Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. "Lennie Tristano Catalog". jazzdisco.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  10. ^ Lennie Tristano (Collectables) at AllMusic