We’re getting so close! Lennie’s Pennies is definitely the most difficult Tristano composition I’ve learned thus far. The tune is based on “Pennies From Heaven” but altered to be in minor. If you haven’t already do yourself a favor and check out Bing Crosby’s version (skip forward to 3 minutes in). “Pennies” has one of the greatest verses I’ve ever heard.
Lennie’s line is difficult to learn as well as very difficult to play (measures 27-28 don’t lay too well on the alto sax). The harmony in the 28th bar (5th to last) always eluded me. It’s one of the most distinct and mysterious moments in the changes. Even though they drop a beat early on, I love the intensity of this live recording with Warne and Gary Foster in 1971 at the Ice House.
Transcription: Lennie’s Pennies
April is Tristano’s line based on the standard “I’ll Remember April” which I talked about in a previous post. My transcription is mostly based on the performance from the Half Note in 1959 with Lee and Warne. If you haven’t realized yet I’m a big Half Note fan!
The crazy rhythmic stuff at 36 seconds took me days to figure out, and was pretty confusing to write out. Other great recordings of April include two versions from the 1955 Confucius Restaurant date with Lennie and Lee, and the 1952 Quintet performance in Toronto with some very noticeable differences.
Wow. While some have theorized that this tune is inspired by “You Can Depend On Me,” Lennie’s long-time student Connie Crothers asserts that it is an original chord progression by Tristano. In any case it’s a very unusual and challenging piece of music. I love the restraint and purity of sound achieved on the original recording from the 1949 Capitol sextet recordings with Lennie, Lee, Warne, and Billy Bauer.
BONUS: Warne Marsh’s handwritten chart for the tenor part
Lennie-Bird (based on How High The Moon) is the most recent Tristano composition I’ve added to the repertoire. I’ve never really been a huge fan of playing How High The Moon (although I can’t help loving this version). But hearing Lennie’s line totally shed new light on it for me. My favorite version is from the Half Note with Lee and Warne in 1959. This is a somewhat insane challenge for horn players as there is very little opportunity to breath. I love the tasteful places where Lee and Warne stop to breath.
Transcription: Lennie Bird
All About You is a Lennie line based on the changes to the great standard “How About You?” If you haven’t heard Judy Garland singing it you must, her version gives me goosebumps every time!
“All About You” is a line that saxophonist Warne Marsh played many times. Here’s a version from the 1982 North Sea Jazz Festival with Warne and pianist Sal Mosca. The way Mosca reharmonizes it is CRAZY…it almost sounds like a Monk tune.
And the transcription: All About You
I’m excited to announce that in exactly one week I’ll be playing a couple gigs up in Seattle with my Lennie Tristano Project. Although I’ve always referred to this project as a “Lennie Band,” it’s only recently that we’ve expanded our repertoire enough to be able to play a full set of music comprised entirely of Tristano compositions. Each day for the next week leading up to our first Seattle show I’ll be giving a little preview of one of the Lennie Lines that we will be playing. Each post will include a recording (or several) as well as a transcription. Enjoy!
317 E. 32nd St. (based on “Out of Nowhere”) is one of the most commonly played Tristano heads. It’s one of the first ones I learned, and is a great tune to warm up on. Listen to the way that Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh played it at the Half Note in 1959. They’re soooo loose with some of those rhythms. Check out the phrase at 36 seconds!! The version of Lennie and the Quintet live in Toronto in ’52 is great as well.
Here’s the transcription: 317 E. 32nd
**Note: all of these transcriptions are intended for practical performance use and don’t take into account many rhythmic idiosyncrasies. Some of them compile different elements from different versions as these tunes were often played very differently each time.