(Excerpted from Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser’s Art by Andy Hamilton, University of Michigan Press, 2007.)
Lennie Tristano was one of jazz’s most remarkable innovators. A charismatic influence on a generation of mainly white players, the blind pianist had excellent technique and fertile musical imagination. His work was respected by many leading figures including Charlie Parker. Tristano was widely recognized as a compelling teacher, who demonstrated—against the accepted view up to that time—that jazz improvisation could be taught. Lee Konitz described Tristano as a “musician-philosopher” and a school of young musicians around Tristano became known as a cooler modern-jazz alternative to bebop, or at least an extension of it.