Lennie Tristano (with Lee Konitz): All the Things You Are
All the Things You Are
Lennie Tristano (piano)
Lennie Tristano / The New Tristano (Rhino (Atlantic) 71595)
Composed by Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein III.
Recorded: The Sing Song Room of the Confucius Restaurant, New York, Summer, 1955
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
In the annals of jazz history, the Sing Song Room of the Confucius Restaurant will never be confused with Birdland or the Village Vanguard, but Lennie Tristano recorded one of his finest live dates in this unlikely setting during the summer of 1955. This excellent version of "All the Things You Are" was originally released by Atlantic on their Lennie Tristano LP in February 1956, but a larger selection of recordings from the Confucius Restaurant has occasionally been made available (currently they can be found on a
poorly produced Spanish import with sound quality inferior to the old LP release). Both Konitz and Tristano were improvising at top form on this gig, which finds them thriving in a low-key setting, seemingly playing as much for their own enjoyment as for the audience. Somehow I think that if this same crew had been featured at Carnegie Hall that evening, the musical results would not have been half so fun.
Konitz would later move away from his cool jazz sound, but here he reminds us of the long lineage of cool sax playing going back to Lester Young and Frank Trumbauer. Imagine a bebop update on Prez (circa "Lady be Good") translated to alto, and you have some idea what this track sounds like. Tristano plays with great relaxation and inventiveness here, and offers up a smart linear improvisation. His lines at the turnaround at the close of his first chorus and the bridge of his second chorus are absolutely choice—demonstrating a way of accenting complex long phrases across the barlines that sounds twenty years ahead of its time. Remember this was recorded long before those types of interval choices or rhythmic dislocations were common currency. Then again, this artist always had an uncanny knack for anticipating the future history of jazz.
"All the Things You Are" was a familiar friend to the Tristano school, played at many of their gigs; but they never got stale playing it. Rather its performance was like the repetition of a ritual, finding deeper meanings with each new encounter.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia