Charlie Parker & Lennie Tristano: I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me


I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me


Charlie Parker (alto sax) and Lennie Tristano (piano)


Charlie Parker with Lennie Tristano: Complete Recordings (Definitive Records 11289)

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Charlie Parker (alto sax), Lennie Tristano (piano), Kenny Clarke (brushes on a telephone book).

Composed by Clarence Gaskill & Jimmy McHugh


Recorded: New York, August 1951


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

This rare private recording finds Bird visiting Lennie Tristano at 317 E. 32nd St., where the pianist had set up a modest recording studio (with some help from Rudy Van Gelder). Kenny Clarke joins in on brushes, playing a phonebook instead of a drum kit.

There is a miscommunication between the two players eight bars into Bird's solo—the altoist seems ready to go into the bridge, while Tristano has returned to restate the A theme. But after that, the performance is wonderfully relaxed, with Parker taking on more of a Lester-ish flavor than usual. Tristano once commented that Bird's pianists didn't challenge him enough in their comping, yet his own accompaniment here is smooth with only occasional harmonic sparks thrown in Parker's path. But for his own solo, Lennie gets more baroque in a delightful way.

Parker and Tristano apparently discussed starting their own record label around this time, but unfortunately we have only a handful of tracks documenting the chemistry between these two players. Tristano revered Parker, and marveled at the altoist's ability to hear and respond to his substitute changes. And Bird returned the props, at a time when many critics were hostile, stating: "As for Lennie Tristano, I would like to go on record as saying I endorse his work in every particular. . . He has tremendous technical ability and you know, he can play anywhere with anybody. He's a tremendous musician."

I wish we had several hours of Bird and Lennie in musical dialogue. This track is more an appetizer than a main course, but still an important document in the history of modern jazz, demonstrating the complementarity of two approaches that some would have you believe were incompatible.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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