Tristano-ite Counterpoint: "Scrapple from the Apple"

A couple live recordings have been on my listening rotation for the past month, one of which is Live at the Half Note (1959), a two disc-set that features Lennie Tristano's quintet (Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Jimmy Garrison, and Paul Motian) with Bill Evans subbed-in for Tristano. This set-up calls to mind other recordings where a quintessential band is missing an important figure or has a substitution (Cannonball and Coltrane, which is basically the Kind of Blue band without Miles, or To the Beat of a Different Drum, which is the classic Coltrane quartet with Roy Haynes instead of Elvin). Bill Evans's comping is noticeably subdued on this record; he seems to function in the group more as a horn voice than as a rhythm section voice, but this isn't a problem since Lee and Warne thrive in a more open rhythm section sound.

It's not a stretch to claim that Lee and Warne had one of the tightest two-horn sounds in jazz history, and probably one of their most famous arrangements is the offset "Donna Lee," where one voice plays the head a beat earlier than the other voice. The two voices only realign in the last descending line, thanks to a cunningly inserted pair of half steps. On Live at the Half Note, my ear was caught by the counterpoint line that Warne plays against Lee's melody on "Scrapple from the Apple."

Concert (PDF)
Transposed (PDF)

The line that Warne plays is more or less the response to the initial call of the melody, with an ascending arpeggio instead of the original descending arpeggio. I originally thought that this was improvised counterpoint, but noticed that Warne plays the same line on the last 8 bars of the head, which doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't improvised, but also makes me think it might have been something worked out to some extent. In any case, it doesn't sound worked to my ears because of the independence of the line, which stands on its own as an alternate melody. 

I recently finished reading Eunmi Shim's Lennie Tristano: His Life in Music (seems to be a popular subtitle for music biographies), so hopefully I'll have time to write some of my thoughts about the book. Nerding alert: I had a surprisingly fun time looking through the endnotes, which are packed with cool factoids that Shim decided to omit from the text proper. Among these include accounts of Tristano reading Tolstoy's War and Peace, which I've been working on for the past few weeks and which has pretty much derailed what was an otherwise smooth summer reading itinerary:
Regarding Tolstoy’s novel, [Bill] Russo reminisced that Tristano “said he read it and he played better afterward, so we all read it, hoping that we’d play better afterward, which we did.”
Also, the fact that Tristano reportedly wasn't a fan of Bill Evans was news to me—hearing the triplet-y, extensively linear playing of Tristano from his '50s Atlantic records sounds to me like proto-Evans, and the metronomic time feel seems particularly noteworthy as a point of coincidence between the two. From circa Live at the Half Note in '59:
Tristano, however, did not like [Bill] Evans’s style. Konitz reminisced that during Evans’s club engagement Tristano “got up in the middle of a set, and we were obliged to leave with him.” 
* * * * * 

The radio silence of the past two weeks has primarily been due to lack of motivation to write, but I'm pleased to share that, as of last week, I'm the new editor of Jazz Speaks, the blog of The Jazz Gallery (for at least a little while). I posted interviews with Juancho Herrera and Ingrid Laubrock last week, but be apprised that I'll be doing more editing/managing than writing.

Another exciting announcement: tentatively, I'll be playing with Kyle Poole at Smalls Jazz Club next Tuesday, August 6th, as part of the house band for the late night session. RE: the music, I'll just say that it might reference some Joe Henderson.

One more factoid: as I learned from Rio Sakairi the other night, the Half Note was located at 289 Hudson Street in the West Village up to its closing in 1972, which is actually right across the street from the old Jazz Gallery location at 290 Hudson! The former Half Note is now a deli; no word on its sandwiches, but hopefully I'll have an excuse to stop by at some point.