Lennie Tristano: Don't Blame Me


Don't Blame Me


Lennie Tristano (piano)


Why Do I Love You? Rare Broadcasts: 1947-48 (Natasha Imports 4015)

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Lennie Tristano (piano), Billy Bauer (guitar), Tommy Potter (bass).

Composed by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields


Recorded: New York, November 8, 1947


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Charlie Parker was in the studio the day this was recorded (as part of an all-star band assembled by Barry Ulanov), and Bird had just recorded his definitive version of this ballad earlier in the week. Sad to say, the altoist stays on the sidelines during this track. But Tristano does not disappoint. He constructs an ethereal sound collage above the harmonies of "Don't Blame Me," sometimes getting so far away from the tonal center that he appears about to sever the umbilical cord and drift away into another song. It's catch-as-catch-can for Billy Bauer, who has the unappealing task to trying to match his guitar chords to Tristano's mind-bending solo. Anticipating the moves of this pianist is like trying to predict the navigational patterns of a butterfly. Wherever you go, Tristano just left. But the band somehow holds together, and delivers a diaphanous version of this 1932 standard.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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