New Book Contains Chapter On Lennie

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Marv Friedenn
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Postby Marv Friedenn » Sun Jul 01, 2007 9:26 am

BT's silences are difficult. I fall down them without hope of hitting bottom. I get paranoid. I think someone with leverage has urged him to fall silent. I think nobody wants critique in a world so sensitive to criticism (because it is so criticizable) that a child sneezing sounds like a bomb going off. Maybe a poem will relax me. "People walk around with a gun to their heads and demand that I squeeze the trigger or else they'll shoot."

Marv Friedenn
Posts: 129
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:34 am

Postby Marv Friedenn » Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:18 am

BT, here's a short critique of LT's "Requiem" in which I put my ear on the line.

In what you might call the prelude of the piece, Lennie presses the keys but Bird hovers in the overtones. The proximity of the living and the dead is unmistakable. It's what Lennie intends us to hear. Nobody else but Lennie Tristano could have composed such lucid musical drama without a trace of theatricality. Then there's a pause. The impression is that Lennie is waiting for the overtones to clear before he commemorates Bird's passing with a stretch of blues. But the impression is false because if you listen closely, you hear the dead silence of a stopped tape machine. Whether minutes or hours passed is impossible to say, but any amount of time could have intervened between the prelude and the blues. I suspect a lot of time intervened because the drop in conception and feeling from prelude to blues is remarkable. The blues is just too perfunctory to sustain the elevated mood of the prelude. I fear that when Lennie took up the piece again, the inspiration (das Gespenst ) was spent.

B T
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Postby B T » Thu Jul 05, 2007 1:59 pm

Marv Friedenn wrote:BT's silences are difficult. I fall down them without hope of hitting bottom. I get paranoid. I think someone with leverage has urged him to fall silent. I think nobody wants critique in a world so sensitive to criticism (because it is so criticizable) that a child sneezing sounds like a bomb going off. Maybe a poem will relax me. "People walk around with a gun to their heads and demand that I squeeze the trigger or else they'll shoot."


Nope, no jazis in my house (doesn't deserve a capital "J").
Some people shouldn't play with guns.

B T
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Postby B T » Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:02 pm

Marv Friedenn wrote:BT, here's a short critique of LT's "Requiem" in which I put my ear on the line.

Then there's a pause. The impression is that Lennie is waiting for the overtones to clear before he commemorates Bird's passing with a stretch of blues. But the impression is false because if you listen closely, you hear the dead silence of a stopped tape machine. Whether minutes or hours passed is impossible to say, but any amount of time could have intervened between the prelude and the blues.


That certainly is a valid question - when the two sections were recorded. I'd like to know, myself. Both are equal and supreme to me. You might be surprised to know that some people don't "get" the prelude, and have suggested re-releasing the blues section without it!

Have you heard the Requiem prelude as Alan Broadbent arranged for string orchestra and conducted it? It's beautiful. It is track #3 on a CD which segues into a Bird tune, "Back Home Blues". [Charlie Haden Quartet West - Now Is The Hour (1996 Polydor/PolyGram)]

Some peoples' impressions become even more amusing. I played the Broadbent track for someone and he thought he was hearing Schumann, just because he vaguely remembered having read what Barry Ulanov wrote about Requiem in his liner notes for Atlantic 1224. (1956): "... in which first of all Lennie sets a mood with unexpected Schumannesque figures ..."

Marv Friedenn
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Postby Marv Friedenn » Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:25 am

Bud, you're just going to have to face it. Sometimes even the great Tristano miscued.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk offers the following advice to anyone sending off someone New Orleans style: "They really give him a nice way to go. They don't tamper with his mind. They play the kind of thing that he really would like to hear." In other words the psychology here is that you play the dead man's favorite music in order to create the illusion that he's there listening. That he's not dead. Lennie's blues, on the contrary, as bluetiful as it is, focuses on the bereaved, that is on Lennie himself, expressing how much Bird is missed. But if Bird is missed, then Bird is dead, which is contrary to protocol. The music must presume, as the prelude does, that Bird is alive for it to be a proper New Orleans send off.

Bird's life was so much greater than any blues can express. It was a bebop life. "Bebop's the residue after life dissolves over a flame. Bebop rags the blues." Lennie would have to have ruptured the blues form in order to convince us that Bird lives. "Bird escorted melody to the brink of chaos but pulled her back and held her there in loving embrace."

Lennie failed here to express the tragedy that he and Bird, the two great American musical talents of the 20th century, distanced by race and by commerce, failed to marry musically. Lennie should have torn the keyboard apart with rage. That would have been what Bird really would have liked to hear.

B T
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Postby B T » Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:51 am

Marv Friedenn wrote:you're just going to have to face it. Sometimes even the great Tristano miscued.

I never thought for a second that anyone was perfect. Perish the thought! However, I think Requiem is. It probably needs its own thread. Might even pull in other posters as well, as there are a lot of people out there who feel very intensely about it.

Marv Friedenn wrote:Bird's life was so much greater than any blues can express. It was a bebop life. "Bebop's the residue after life dissolves over a flame. Bebop rags the blues."

I hope you are not going to get into the harmony argument. There are those who, onced brainwashed by the West's even-tempered diatonic system, can only hear music as math. Its a horrible disease ... its even worse than ... (gasp) ... Tristanoitis ... the most common strain being known as (giant sucking sound) ... jazz guitar ...

Marv Friedenn wrote:Lennie failed here to express the tragedy that he and Bird, the two great American musical talents of the 20th century, distanced by race and by commerce, failed to marry musically. Lennie should have torn the keyboard apart with rage. That would have been what Bird really would have liked to hear.

And you already know what Lennie has said about expressing anger on one's instrument.

Marv Friedenn
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Postby Marv Friedenn » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:45 am

Requiem mystery solved at least to my satisfaction!

The blues section begins 1:27 minutes into the piece. Start listening there and take a "blindfold test." Who'se playing? Someone with a staccato touch like Lennie's. My uneducated guess is James P. Johnson! Why Lennie should play a James P. Johnson blues for Bird is anybody's guess. Anyhow, if the prelude expresses uninhibited shock and grief at Bird's death, the more deliberate blues represents a respectful offering to the dead. Now, here's my point. The psychological "distance" between feeling shock and showing respect is not traversed in an instant. To recover from shock and then to become steady enough to resolve on an appropriate gift for the dead requires a passage of time. That's why I find the few beats of silence between prelude and blues psychologically and hence dramatically unconvincing.

On the other hand, one could argue that the short pause between the sections symbolizes a longer passage of time. But the argument against that is that if the pause is symbolic, the listener has to take the trouble to reevaluate the few seconds of recording time that passes during the silence. But for the listener to be distracted by any ambiguity however narratively justified spoils the effect of immediacy so convincingly portrayed by the prelude.

Marv Friedenn
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Postby Marv Friedenn » Sun Jul 29, 2007 1:31 am

Supposing silence implies consent, let's turn to Liz Gorrill's painting on Connie Crothers' CD Concert at Cooper Union recorded in 1984, the year Orwell predicted the planet would be farmed. Edgar and Liz agree that a rainbow straddles the maelstrom. The rainbow is hope deferred. Not abandoned as in the Inferno. But sent and meant to reach you before you move.

Anyhow, Carol's Dream and WoW are on the CD. The two are related like granddddddchildddddd and grandddddaddddddd. The melody in Carol's Dream has wider intervals to show we're wider apart than in Lennie's time when we were still taking our departure. Of course, the wider apart, the more dreamlike it is to relate to each other.

When Connie slows up those driplet phrases at the end of wow, that's love for all to hear! Connie slows down Lennie so we can enter him and look around. The room so sad and sweet we hear the lion bleat.

She chords wow at the climax of her solo as if scored for full orchestra. Connie composes.

B T
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Postby B T » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:32 am

Marv Friedenn wrote:On the other hand, one could argue that the short pause between the sections symbolizes a longer passage of time.


A very real consideration is how much silence [between movements of a piece] will work in the context of a side of a vinyl LP, the medium used.

B T
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Postby B T » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:47 am

Marv Friedenn wrote: ... let's turn to Liz Gorrill's painting on Connie Crothers' CD Concert at Cooper Union recorded in 1984, the year Orwell predicted the planet would be farmed. Edgar and Liz agree that a rainbow straddles the maelstrom. The rainbow is hope deferred. Not abandoned as in the Inferno. But sent and meant to reach you before you move.

Anyhow, Carol's Dream and WoW are on the CD. The two are related like granddddddchildddddd and grandddddaddddddd. The melody in Carol's Dream has wider intervals to show we're wider apart than in Lennie's time when we were still taking our departure. Of course, the wider apart, the more dreamlike it is to relate to each other.

When Connie slows up those driplet phrases at the end of wow, that's love for all to hear! Connie slows down Lennie so we can enter him and look around. The room so sad and sweet we hear the lion bleat.

She chords wow at the climax of her solo as if scored for full orchestra. Connie composes.


All good stuff, but it belongs in another topic, say, "Artistic Interpretations of Music". "Artistic" implying a wider scope than the egalitarian question. Just a suggestion.

To wrap up the Sermon thread, a couple of nagging questions have surfaced. Moot points possibly. Not even playing devil's advocate, just wondering how you would respond, vis à vis the "egalitarian nature of LT's music".


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