Hommage a Tristano: The Review

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

Hommage a Tristano: The Review

Postby Marv Friedenn » Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:09 pm

Andreas Schmidt (piano), John Schroeder (drums), Christian Ramond (bass). Konnex Records KCD 5180 (2006).

On the slow swells of a calm sea
amidst bass and drum debris
a prelude floats to me.

With Hommage a Tristano I regret to say that for the first time the old accusation is true that Lennie doesn't swing. A brilliant and sensitive percussionist with impeccable musical credentials, John Schroeder nevertheless is the drummer from hell whom Lennie foresaw would one day cross his path. I don't mean that the contrapuntal activity carried on between piano and drums is satanic. What I mean is that, unlike a tonal instrument, which is translucent to other sounds, drum sounds are opaque; they block out other sounds. Consequently, when Andreas and John solo simultaneously, the musicians intend us to imagine John's expressionist lights percussively flickering across a stage set lyrically dressed by Andreas' improvisation. But instead we hear small arms fire crackling in the theater. In short, John tears holes in Andreas' solos instead of adding buttons.

Songs which have nothing to do with Lennie like "Dinner In Dortmund" and "J.A.C." are amazing and beautiful possibly because, owing to the fragmentary nature of the motifs, the boys puzzle out a genuine unity. But extended melodies like "Lennie's Pennies" and the by now classic "Carol's Dream," whose musical secrets once unlocked promise to explain our epoch, still await decipherment. "It's You Or No One," the longest cut on the CD, has wonderfully timbred piano and bass moments. But even if the piece--which contains many abrupt silences--alludes to the Tristano family entertainment where Lennie would play the piano while the kids danced around the studio, and when he suddenly stopped playing, they froze in position, the piece is tedious. After ten minutes, even the Tristanos broke for milk and cookies.

p.s. In the course of reviewing Hommage I became deutsch just long enough to have the following thought:

I live in Dresden. The first time I heard whenever it rains it rains pennies from heaven I thought of death from the sky. But I also felt that jazz alone was willing to contain the grief and move it along. Of course the grief contained by jazz also moved jazz along in a direction it wouldn't have guessed if pennies hadn't fallen from heaven.
Last edited by Marv Friedenn on Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

B T
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:49 pm

Re: Hommage a Tristano: The Review

Postby B T » Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:24 am

Marv Friedenn wrote:... where Lennie would play the piano while the kids marched around the studio ...


Danced, Marv, not "marched". I think you are identifying too much with a certain historical era of Deutschland.

But you know what? You are picking up on something. I am reluctant to sound critical here. I appreciate the CD very much. But ... I can't quite put my finger on it ... Is it that the music sounds more like a restrained classical performance rather than an improvisation? Does the piano sound too much like an electric piano? On first listen, I found myself getting antsy ... Its like I wanted the musicians to play with a little more reckless abandon. Where is Dr. Janov when you need him?

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

Postby Marv Friedenn » Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:18 pm

It's not that Andreas doesn't love Lennie's music. What's hokey here is the homage concept. Tribute and homage both imply respect. But homage goes further. Homage implies personal commitment to the man and what he stands for; tribute, merely repayment of a debt. The CD is a a fitting tribute to Lennie. But the homage is not only unconvincing (for example, do John and Christian also pay homage, or just Andreas?) but a tad meretricious. I say meretricious because, well . . . imagine the following interview which of course is fiction: Q. Why use a trio when a solo album might be more appropriate? A. Because the trio will sell better than the solo album. Q. Well, if you're going to use a trio, why not arrange some unison work a la Tristano? A. Because that's not my band's recognizable style even if it is Lennie's. Q. Why not lower Lennie's profile and increase your own by simply presenting a tribute to Lennie? A. Because the tribute concept implies equality between the parties involved. But Lennie's international audience, which I'd like to tap into, expects Lennie to be venerated not equalled.

Andreas is very very good. He has a solo album in the works which I intend to purchase if only he promises to be himself.
Last edited by Marv Friedenn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

B T
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:49 pm

Postby B T » Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:34 pm

Marv Friedenn wrote: . . . imagine the following interview which of course is fiction: Q. Why use a trio when a solo album might be more appropriate? A. Because the trio will sell better than the solo album. Q. Well, if you're going to use a trio, why not arrange some unison work a la Tristano? Because that's not the band's recognizable style even if it is Lennie's. Q. Why not lower Lennie's profile and increase your own by simply presenting a tribute to Lennie? A. Because the tribute concept implies equality between the parties involved. But Lennie's international audience, which I'd like to tap into, expects Lennie to be venerated not equalled.


In this context "equalled" might even be considered blasphemous!

Marv Friedenn wrote:It's not that Andreas doesn't love Lennie's music. What's hokey here is the homage concept.

***
Andreas is very very good. He has a solo album in the works which I intend to purchase if only he promises to be himself.


Yes. Very very good. A+ for effort. I appreciate it beyond all beyonds.
Many thanks to Andreas. Unfortunately, (taking a hint from your review) "hommage" = "cool".

andreas schmidt
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Location: berlin, germany
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Postby andreas schmidt » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:18 pm

oh what did i do.....
i hear tristanos music some 20 years ago and did play lines of his and with rhythm sections more or less also unisonos with sax players. as i did a CD with lee konitz in 1994 with only my tunes, none based on standards, but more free stretches with composed heads.
and that trio from my recent CD played for about 2 years jam concerts, with me doing standards and some of my tunes.
and as i guess lennie tristano gave some new thinx 2 jazz, i thought they heavily inspired me. like :
free playing
lines on standards
complete improvisatory moment, without judging whats going on
blowing on standards without lines, without melody
contemporary chord structures
the goal to have a collective sound in the band
first overdub stuff and making use of studio technique
speeding up tapes (perhaps)
sound impros like MAELSTROM
more improvised lines together
walking bass contrapunct in left hand
rhythmic complexitys
etc
etc

so i refer on the CD to all these thinx i guess....

plus students i love of his like connie, sal, jimmy etc.

the loop at the end of the CD is a kind of meditation to not really have to "listen" to like a normal song. we did that at the gig for a while and then i COPIED a part in the studio and put it a few times at the end of the tunes impro.

i played with roger mancuso and i guess he is kind of commonicative way of improvising at the same time the piano improvises. so i guess thats possible.

anyway..... thanx 4 listening to my CD .... my next solo piano work u can hear at :

http://myspace.com/slowmotionemotion

till someday...

lieben gruss

andreas
www.myspace.com/andreasschmidt
my new CD from 2007
hommage à tristano


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