« Ask Him Now | Main | Passport to Dexterity »



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Ted and the Tristano School:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


One more thought: Tristano despised Monk – not due to race. The same from the other side: When somebody doesn’t like Tristano’s music, the reason isn’t race but different aesthetics. Of course, Tristano’s music is very artful, full of ideas, and virtuosic - but how does it affect me? Does it groove? Does it sound good? Does it reach my soul and my feeling for motion? Does it sound “natural” (breathing, speaking, walking, singing …)? Parker’s music did very well – though it was also very complex. Not every complex art sounds good when I learn to “understand” it.


I was interested in the question „What is Cool Jazz?” and I really appreciate these articles here. After reading also in some books, I think: “Cool Jazz” was a pure critics-hype. The word “cool” means a lot of things from the pureness of European classical music through to an African-American elegance and cleverness. All of these things have been elements of “Jazz” since its beginning (the cool Creole clarinets; the versatile Armstrong-lines; the white “lady made out of Jazz” etc.). But at the end of the 1940s critics thought they have to proclaim a new era – the “Cool jazz era”. Why? I think it is not exaggerated what Miles Davis said in his autobiography. It was a issue of cultural sensitivities mingled with racial identities.

When I listen to “Birth of the Cool”: It’s absolutely boring. The Tristano music is really weak in “sound” and “groove”. Who can enjoy that? This music seems to be wrapped in cotton wool. The saxophones sound like dream creatures without bones and the spooky atmosphere is compensated by a baby blue prettiness. How could this music be a further development of Parker’s music? I think, there is a good reason why the Tristano school doesn’t get an important place in every serious “Jazz” history now. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to read about the Tristano school in these articles here.

To me, also Ethan Iverson’s racial aspect is interesting. In this regard, I think: The interest in Tristano makes me think of John Zorn’s search of own roots in a (invisible) Jewishness of Burt Bacharach’s music :). “Jazz” musicians get a vast amount of influences from everywhere. Coltrane from Indian music, Ornette Coleman from Moroccan musicians, Miles Davis from Chatschaturjan, Parker playd to Stravinsky's Firebird Suite etc. etc. … … - Why shouldn’t Tristano’s ideas exert some influences? What are they exactly?

But in the end I think: The real endeavour must be to search for and to convey an idea of what is the specific sensitivity of the Armstrong-Parker-Coltrane-tradition. We know the whole European kind of thinking. But the really fascinating thing of so called “Jazz” is a bit different. That is what we have to search for.

That should be the mission of critics. Instead, they proclaimed the “Cool Jazz” and arranged it so that Parker was displaced by Konitz in the Metronome polls – a shame. That is no past: Vijay Iyer has been chosen as “Jazz musician of the year 2010”. He said that somebody else is “as important as Coltrane. He has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music. He deserves to be placed in the pantheon of pioneering artists.” But that guy doesn’t win any poll – a sham. “Cool Jazz” is always and everwhere!

I know, I'm embarrassing but why not the truth. :)


I’m no musician, no writer, a pure (European) listener. I’m very glad about this statement of Steve Coleman because the previous statement that he would be indepted to the Tristano-„school“ was really irritating to me. I have never felt any similarity. I guess some people think that Coleman’s rather „light“ or „cool“ ton of his earlier days would be similar to Konitz‘ ton. But I think that both tons are very different: To me, Konitz‘ ton (in Tristano’s days) sounds „neutral“, „pure“; Coleman’s former ton sounds like a slender body, which moves and grooves very versatilely and briskly.

Steve Coleman

Nice article, however, although they are/were all great musicians, I am not influenced by Marsh, Konitz or Tristano. That's may be Ethan's opinion, but its not true. I also never tried to avoid playing "pure bebop", because I never thought about "bebop", I don't think in those terms. I am just trying to create from the perspective of what I see, hear, and feel, but this does not mean that I am 'avoiding' something else. And I don't have a 'system'.

The statement about the "more intellectual black players" is something I really cannot get with at all. You always these kinds of statements with African-Americans that you never hear with white players, you never hear the term "intellectual white players", because the 'intellect' part is assumed. What this implies is that most black players don't possess intellect, or somehow don't demonstrate it, otherwise you would not need to use the term 'intellectual' as a qualifier for 'black player'.

Intellect is a human trait. The music of musicians in the past like Bird, Bud, Rollins, Monk, Trane, etc., were very intellectual, and this has nothing to do with color. What people do is somehow equate a unfamiliar sensibility with a lack of intellect, because the approach does not conform to the paradigm they are accustomed to.

I hope this post does not come off as me being angry, I am not angry at all. I'm just trying to set the record straight. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, and all of these people commenting here are great musicians - but some of this is being stated as if it is fact, and at least in my case, its not true.

Ethan Iverson

Thanks, Nate. Let's get Ted Brown some more gigs!

My two cents on my old two cents:



Great piece, Nate! But found myself wondering why Connie Crothers, a great pianist who studied with Tristano, rarely seems to the recognition she deserves. Any thoughts on this?

Steve Lehman

Great question. It's always really complex to talk about Braxton's musical influence and how it manifests. And tracing the impact of his long-standing endorsement/enthusiasm of Tristano is no different.

In terms of the Rosenwinkel/Turner Axis and the Braxton Axis of Tristano School impact, they may overlap and intertwine more than it seems.

Speaking for myself, I love Mark Turner's playing and have learned a ton from it. I basically wore out "Dharma Days" and come back to that CD at regular intervals (speaking of an "upgraded" rhythm section, Nasheet certainly delivers, as usual). And I think Braxton exposing me to Tristano's music in 1997 and 1998 helped me to relate to "Dharma Days" in a much deeper way.

Meanwhile, here's the AMG link to Braxton's 1989 recording of Lennie Tristano's music. This was dedicated to Warne Marsh (thankfully, while he was still on the planet):


Nate Chinen

Of course, Braxton -- you're right, Steve, he should definitely be here, too. I didn't know about the Wesleyan course. I did know about his appreciation for Marsh and Konitz, which I always filed alongside his love of Paul Desmond.

Obviously Braxton would fit right into that Iverson quote, about "guys who have systems in their stuff." (I mean, c'mon.)

I wonder if it's accurate to plot the Turner/Rosenwinkel axis alongside the Braxton axis, as far as second- or third-generation Tristano School impact? Who would you point to as a young improviser-composer with a Tristano-via-Braxton influence?

Thanks again for the comment!

Steve Lehman

Great stuff as usual. Probably also important to add Anthony Braxton to the discussion of Tristano advocates. Anthony may have been the very first, highly visible, African-American musician to speak (often and very openly) on the importance of Tristano's music and its significance for him. And this was at a time when the stakes were actually fairly high -- Braxton received a good amount of harsh criticism for his endorsement of saxophonists like Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz. Anthony also teaches am undergraduate course at Wesleyan University on Tristano's music.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search The Gig

  • Google

Bookmark and Share

Twitter Feed

    follow me on Twitter

    Become a Fan


    Blog powered by Typepad