This chapter discusses the music of the men surrounding pianist Lennie Tristano in the mid-1940s. Their music is usually regarded as crucial to the development of the jazz avant-garde because “Intuition” and “Digression”—recorded in 1949 by an ensemble that included saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh and guitarist Billy Bauer—are reputed to be the first “free,” totally improvised jazz performances. The Tristano ensemble's free pieces sound very Tristano-like and would seem to have little or no organic connection with the music of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and company. The deeper significance of the Tristano-ites lies in Tristano's transformation of jazz's historical self-consciousness into a rationale for making a new kind of music.
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