Lennie Tristano Plays “All the Things You Are”

In the buildup to the transcriptions class I’m teaching at The Nash starting this Wednesday (June 28th, 4:30pm), I’m posting some new, and some archived transcriptions.

This one is from my time at New England Conservatory. NEC has a lot of unique coursework made possible by the large jazz department and the experimental nature of the curriculum. Allan Chase taught a course on Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano. A significant part of the study in this class involved creating transcriptions for analysis and study.

So here we have Lennie Tristano’s take on “All the Things You Are.” Enough time has passed since doing this that I don’t remember if there was a deeper point behind doing this particular solo, but its so rich and intricate one really isn’t needed. Tristano, for those unfamiliar, was a blind pianist usually put in the Bebop, Post Bop, or Cool schools of playing. He is recognized for his mathematical approach to improvisation, and that of his most celebrated students (Lee Kontiz, Warne Marsh, Bille Bauer), who all had their own takes on his ideas.

This solo gives us two choruses packed with detail. In it, you’ll find enclosures, side-slipping, passing diminished chords, tritone substitutions, and a few more tricky to understand moments.

A particularly striking technique used throughout is what I’ll call pre-side-slipping. He plays a line or arpeggio a half-step above the chord of the moment and then slips down to the chord to resolve. You can’t miss these lines. They are very dissonant and grab your ear immediately.

One other element worthy of mention would be the line starting at measure 47. This triplet figure has a quirky feel to it. I’ve grown used to Beboppers anticipating beats 1 and 3 with triplets. Here, Tristano uses the same rhythmic language, but into 2 and 4 instead, giving it a loping, exaggerated quality.

The solo was supported by very understated comping, and since I was playing this on tenor sax anyways, I’ve chosen to omit it. Maybe you can take on that challenge? Regardless, I’ve provided the Right Hand part in C and Bb for your exploration.

The Transcription

The Lee Konitz transcription on the Transcriptions page was from the same class, and the Ornette Coleman transcription was done for Allan’s Free Jazz Styles course.

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