© - Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“Jazz Visions is a remarkable book which presents a fascinating double portrait of the subject and the author."
- John Chilton, professional Jazz trumpeter and writer on jazz
“This book is just what is needed to inform musicians, students, teachers, and historians around the world with an 'up close and personal' view of the genius of jazz pianist / composer / teacher, Lennie Tristano. Bassist Peter Ind describes vividly how exciting it was to be living in New York City as a creative musician. Peter's writing skills throughout will also enlighten and entertain the novice and non-musician as well. The best part for me is that it was written by a great player who was there right in the thick of it all. What can be a better source for the real truth? Bravo, Peter!"
- Rufus Reid, Jazz bassist
“The Lennie Tristano story has needed telling for a long time. Who better than Peter Ind, who knew Lennie and his music probably better than anyone?"
- Ira Gitler - doyen of New York jazz critics
With Jazz Visions: Lennie Tristano and His Legacy [London: Equinox, 2005], Peter Ind joins fellow bassists Chuck Israels, and his writings on his time working with pianist Bill Evans’ Trio, and Bill Crow’s reflections on working in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Sextet and Concert Jazz Band in providing insights into the music of a major Jazz stylist from the 1945-1965 Modern Jazz era.
And, as is the case with the works of Chuck and Bill, Peter’s narrative is a primary source; an autobiographical documentation of the time and/or person that is being observed. Concerning the halcyon days of post WWII modern Jazz, such primary sources are becoming rarer with each passing year.
The bass provides an interesting vantage point for style analysis as no other instrument in a Jazz group interacts with the music from the vantage point of all the elements that comprise it: melody, harmony, rhythm and sonority [texture or the overall sound of the music].
Of course, it’s one thing to musically interact in this manner and quite another to be able to explain it cogently and coherently. All three of these bassist-authors draw high marks for their ability to put music into words.
While more subjective in its emphasis, along with Nat Hentoff’s comprehensive insert booklet notes to The Complete Atlantic Recordings of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh [Mosaic Records MD6-174] and Eunmi Shim’s Lennie Tristano: His Life and Music [ Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007], Peter’s book is an invaluable guide to understanding Lennie and his music.
Peter explains how and why he approached his book on Lennie - whom he describes as “... one of the seminal influences in Jazz” - in the following excerpts from the Preface to his book:
“I would like to make it clear from the beginning that this book is not intended as an objective account of a man's life but, rather, an attempt to portray Lennie Tristano as I knew him and as I heard his music. Now, half a century later, the world is a very different place. It must be extremely difficult for today's student of jazz music to identify the various stages of his musical creativity, so I have tried to illuminate notjust his music in isolation, but in the context of life as it was in the fifties and sixties, paying particular attention to crucial political events that were taking place in the fifties, some of which have been ignored or apparently forgotten.
I find it ironic that in our present culture, recognition is seldom accorded for genuine effort and achievement; those most recognized are not always the most creative. I knew Lennie Tristano as a supreme example of a great creative musician, who never received the recognition he deserved. How can it be that, in such a sophisticated society as ours, with its ubiquitous media and instantaneous communications, such a person and his achievements remain known only to a few? Gradually I began to come to the conclusion that such sidelining of people of great merit is not restricted to the creative arts, but also obtains in other areas of achievement, especially in the realm of the sciences.
I hope that many people will enjoy this book, not only people who remember the New York jazz scene as it was in those days, but also those who are curious about Lennie Tristano and his place in the evolution of jazz since the late forties. Because different people may be interested in particular aspects, I have organized the book so that readers can dip into specific chapters for what they might seek. Those more interested in what was happening and what New York was like in the late forties through to the fifties will be more interested in Part I, Chapters 1-7. I have included in this section, in Chapter 6, a short summary of some of the lives of musicians associated with Lennie at the time. I have grouped together the more technical aspects of improvisation, in which musicians will be interested, in Part II. Chapters 8-10 focus on a discussion of jazz improvisation and Lennie's contribution in terms of playing, teaching and his understanding of the music. Part III focuses on a reconsideration first of all of Lennie's legacy (Chapters 11 and 12), the jazz scene as I see it (Chapter 13) and a final chapter (Chapter 14), which summarizes all the discussion. So, if you want a quick guide to the book, it is there.
This final chapter deals with the legacy of Lennie and lays to rest some of the misunderstandings that have arisen, particularly regarding Lennie's influence and work. It has been great to pull together all of these memories, to go back and talk to various people and look through old articles etc. …”
Although I am basically familiar with the highlights of Lennie’s career, chapters 1-7 in Peter’s treatment filled in many blanks and provided additional details about Lennie’s journey through the Jazz world, especially in terms of the nature of his influence on other musicians he worked with and who studied with him.
In this regard, Peter offers his own testimonial in Chapter 7 which is entitled - “A Reflection on Lennie as I Knew Him - The Man and The Musician.”
I was particularly taken with the second half of the book which Peter divides into seven chapters under the headings of Part II - Lennie: A More Technical Consideration of Jazz Improvisation and His Legacy and Part III - A Reconsideration of Lennie’s Legacy as they contain observations and insights which are unique to Peter’s perspective.
The chapter headings in Part II are  What Do We Mean By Jazz?,  Appreciating Jazz Improvisation and  The Technical Base of Jazz and Lennie’s Approach.
Part III contains chapters dealing with Mythmaking About Lennie, Lennie Tristano and The Enigma of Non-Recognition, Mythmaking and Prejudices in Jazz, and Reappraisal.
The great thing about many of the questions that Peter poses in these chapters is that they are universal and, as such, can be applied to a broad spectrum on inquiry about Jazz and its makers.
But equally important are the answers that he provides as they go a long way toward resolving many of the open-ended questions in the Jazz literature about Lennie and his music.
For example, when Richard Cook and Brian Morton make the following assertion in their Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed. - “Tristano created a doctrinal school of thought which placed rigorous thought and construction ahead of mere emoting in jazz; once controversial, now a part of the language.” - Peter’s Lennie bio explains how this came to be.
Or when, J. Bradford Robinson states in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Barry Kernfeld, ed. - “Tristano's music stands apart from the main tradition of modern jazz, representing an alternative to bop which poses severe demands of ensemble precision, intellectual rigor, and instrumental virtuosity. Rather than the irregular cross-accents of bop, Tristano preferred an even rhythmic background against which to concentrate on line and focus his complex changes of time signature. Typically, his solos consisted of extraordinarily long, angular strings of almost even eighth-notes provided with subtle rhythmic deviations and abrasive polytonal effects. He was particularly adept in his use of different levels of double time and was a master of the block-chord style of George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, and others, carefully gauging the accumulation of dissonance.” - Peter’s work offers an analysis of how these components took root in Lennie’s style of playing.
Tristano’s experiments in multi track recording and overdubbing, free collective improvisation, most notably in Intuition and Digression (1949) which pointed the way to similar experiments by Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman in the late 1950s and Tristano’s excellence as a teacher, demanding and receiving firm loyalty from his pupils, are also further illuminated by Peter in his masterful Jazz Visions: Lennie Tristano and His Legacy.
Peter’s book on Lennie may have been a long time in coming, but it was well worth waiting for and the Jazz World owes a significant debt of gratitude to him for writing it and to Equinox for underwriting its publication.
In closing, I should like to point out that Valerie Hall, the Editorial and Marketing Manager at Equinox is kindly offering JazzProfiles readers a 25% discount using the code Jazz when ordering from the Equinox website.