Lennie Tristano: I Can't Get Started (1946)


I Can't Get Started


Lennie Tristano (piano)


The Essential Keynote Collection 2: The Complete Lennie Tristano (Mercury 830 921)

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Lennie Tristano (piano), Billy Bauer (guitar),

Clyde Lombardi (bass)


Composed by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin


Recorded: New York, October 8, 1946


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

I rarely find this recording discussed in jazz circles or cited in the history books, but Gunther Schuller called special attention to it in his study The Swing Era, citing it as a landmark performance, and even comparing it to Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" and Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail." High praise, but Schuller is on the mark. If there is a jazz piano track from this period with a more advanced harmonic conception, I haven't heard it. There is hardly a bar in this recording that isn't interesting, and some parts are downright amazing. Listen to how the pianist reworks the bridge and admire the artistry. In later years, Tristano would adopt a highly linear style with more overt bebop mannerisms, but he could have constructed grand aural superstructures with just block chords, as this track makes eminently clear.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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