Sunday 9 January 2011

NY Times article on Lennie Tristano's influence on musicians today

Interesting article in the New York Times this week on the Lennie Tristano School and his influence on players like Mark Turner and Kurt Rosenwinkel. It's interesting how the issue of race is addressed (most of the Tristano school of players were white) and rhythm (he favoured a very staid rhythm section, despite the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of the written and improvised lines). This hasn't stopped Mark Turner taking the music as a starting point and addressing these perceived weaknesses:
“People thought it was cold,” Mr. Turner said.“The African diasporic rhythmic element was not there, not strong enough.” In his own music — notably with Fly, a leaderless trio that will appear at the Jazz Gallery on Tuesday — Mr. Turner set out to make an adjustment. “That’s something that I wanted to do, was bring that into the fold,” he said. “The harmonic information, the melodic information, all of that is so interesting, so why can’t it be brought into a warmer place rhythmically?” (He has a tune called “Lennie's Groove.”)
Growing up in Southern California, Mr. Turner discovered Warne Marsh and responded to the style. “It was almost like a no-no,” he said of his interest in the Tristano School. “No one was doing it, no one in the quote-unquote modern mainstream jazz world.” He responded to the articulate force of the music, but it was more than that: “Something about it spoke to my own personal life and upbringing, being a person of African descent brought up primarily in Caucasian neighborhoods. I felt I was going out on a limb, kind of like when I started listening to rock music and new wave and ska.”
It's great to see musicians like Mark Turner seeing how Tristano's approach can be made relevant to the 21st Century.

Here's Mark playing Lennie's Groove with Fly featuring Jeff Ballard on drums.

NY Times writer Nate Chinen continues his thoughts on his blog The Gig.

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