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Various Artists: The Complete Atlantic Recordings of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, and Wayne Marsh

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If Barry Ulanov’s edict-“The long line is all”-is central to your thinking about Lennie Tristano’s music, then Larry Kart’s booklet essay included in The Complete Atlantic Recordings of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh is a must read. At first, Kart’s assertion that “Rhythm is the paramount issue in Tristano-related music” seems overly bold. Yet, over the course of the eight original LPs that comprise this well remastered set (only four previously unissued performances were found; the truncated tracks included on The Real Konitz and Warne Marsh remain so), Kart’s points about the contrasting metrical patterns Tristano and Marsh superimposed upon a basic 4/4, the primary rhythmic function of Tristano’s “skid”-like runs, and the various approaches the three had to “strict and loose time,” form a cogent argument that substantively enhances the experience of the music.

Kart’s thesis is also a useful tool to reexamine the distinct musical personalities of Tristano, Konitz, and Marsh, who have often been critically compressed into a composite identity. It deepens our sense of the pianist’s probity, exemplified by the tape-speeded tracks on Tristano and the unaccompanied solos that comprise The New Tristano (at last, “C Minor Complex” is on CD; this bona fide masterpiece was odiously omitted on Rhino’s single-disc package of these two albums).

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