Friday, August 3, 2012

Bird & Lennie: a study in great music and drummers

All of the collaborations that included Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano are included in this amazing album: The Complete Lennie Tristano Sessions

The album is mainly centered on the Metronome All-Stars radio broadcasts that included both Bird and Lennie, but also other recording sessions. The gems, in my opinion, are tracks 2 and 17. What makes them special is Bird recorded them on his personal recorder in a hotel room with Lenny on piano and Kenny Clarke on taking care of the percussion. Indeed, on track 2, All of Me, Clarke is using brushes on a phone book! Here is a clip that contains both of those tracks:

While those tracks are gems, that does not diminish the value of the remaining tracks, which are gems in their own right.

Consider some of the personnel (and this is a short list off the top of my head): Max Roach and Shelly Manne are drummers on many of the tracks, along with Ray Brown on bass, Dizzy, Miles Davis and Fats Navarro on trumpet and even Sarah Vaughan on vocals. Here is another selection from the album performing one of Lenny Tristano's compositions:

This is a great album for any musician or jazz aficionado, and a gold mine of examples for drummers.

A final word about Kenny Clarke: at some point I plan to devote a post exclusively to him because of his major contributions to jazz. He took drumming in a new direction, making him one of the influences in our young instrument (drum kits). Here is a video of him with the great Bud Powell that I hope will not only pique your interest, but inspire you to dig a little deeper into who he was as a man and as a musician.

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