Whither Ted Brown? The answer to that question can be found in my feature in Arts & Leisure this weekend, which uses Brown’s return -- at the Kitano Hotel this Wednesday, in case you didn’t know -- as an excuse to reflect on the growing influence of the Tristano School.
I suspect hardcore Tristano fans will find plenty of fault with the piece, which takes a rudimentary approach to a fairly complex set of issues. This was the necessary tradeoff for a general-interest readership, though I do worry about one thing: I hope my characterization of Tristano’s music doesn’t make it seem like rhythm itself was M.I.A.
Anyone who has attempted to transcribe these tunes can attest to the subdivisions and superimpositions that Tristano could inflict on a 4/4 bar; that’s one reason for Larry Kart’s assertion, in The Complete Atlantic Recordings of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, and Wayne Marsh, that “Rhythm is the paramount issue in Tristano-related music.”
Still it’s demonstrably true that Tristano subordinated the bassist and drummer in most of his available music, at a time when the rhythm section was king. (Here is where I steer you to Ethan Iverson’s post on Tristano; scroll down, if you must, to the sections on drummers and bassists.) What interested me here was the thought that improvisers now in their 20s and 30s are willing to look past the non-dynamic rhythm sections and embrace Tristano’s music for its considerable strengths. If anyone is responsible for this, it’s Mark Turner.