Lennie Tristano: Line Up
Lennie Tristano (piano)
Lennie Tristano / The New Tristano
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
When this track was first released, it attracted enormous attention . . . but not for the music. Tristano had "tampered" with the tapes by recording the piano part over a separate rhythm track, manipulating the music in the process. Tristano never provided details—and got testy when questioned about his method—but it appears that he brought the bass and drums down to half speed, and recorded the piano on top of this slower version, then accelerated the playback rate of the combined performance. A certain ethereal and detached quality permeates the finished product. The piano sound possesses a strange, unnatural crispness, and the question was raised whether Tristano wasn't trying to "trick" people into thinking that he could play faster than was actually the case.
The controversy would be less pronounced today, when studio splicing, dicing and "fixing" are a high-tech art. But the sad result of this brouhaha was that it distracted attention from Tristano's brilliant performance. "Line Up" is one of the great linear improvisations in the modern jazz heritage. Students could profitably study this solo, learning from its crystalline structure, unlocking the artistry of its phrasing, the rhythmic relationship of melody to the ground beat, and the harmonic implications of Tristano's lines. The chord changes are borrowed from "All of Me," but instead of the romantic sensibility of that standard, Tristano offers a diamond-hard coolness purged of all emotional excesses. This is as pure and abstract as music can get. At any speed, "Line Up" is a masterpiece.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
Other reviews for this track:
- Lennie Tristano: Line Up by Frank Kimbrough (for Desert Island Dozens) (100/100)