Writings about Music

Pure Music Manna

Lennie Tristano

Loving the articulation and clarity of Lennie Tristano playing piano, each swara a fastball, curve, slider or knuckleball touched deep center, sending the tones flying effortlessly high over the outfield fences, circling the globe - pure music manna.

I sometimes wonder what if I had studied piano with Lennie Tristano rather than Barney Bragin as a teenager - Tristano lived in Jamaica Estates and Barney Bragin lived in Bellerose, less than five miles apart in Queens, New York - not knowing about Tristano at the time Barney told me he couldn't teach improvisation because it wasn't something that can be taught. And Bragin did have a point, shared by Bill Evans, that one ultimately has to teach one's self how to improvise in the sense of finding your own personal, original style.

Of course, five or six years later, at nineteen, I was fortunate to study improvisation with Lennie Tristano's principle disciple, Lee Konitz, who when I asked how he achieves continuity in a solo replied, "I don't know," a profoundly Zen-like attitude that still holds water.

- Michael Robinson, December 2022, Maui


© 2022 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 198 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.