What is a jazz record anyway? Lennie Tristano and the use of extended studio techniques in jazz

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Abstract

In 1956, jazz pianist Lennie Tristano released an eponymous LP on Atlantic Records that for the first time made use of overdubbing and the manipulation of tape speeds in a jazz context. The resulting tracks “Line Up,” “Requiem,” “Turkish Mambo,” and “East Thirty-Second Street” created a watershed moment for the creative use of extended studio techniques in jazz, but also sparked an angry backlash from both critics and fans. Though Tristano had been experimenting with such techniques as early as 1951, he had been able to avoid such a critical response to his techniques largely by evading the question. However, his more overt use of in-studio manipulation in 1956 (Tristano) prompted such controversy that Atlantic records was prompted to issue a disclaimer on Tristano’s follow up record (The New Tristano, 1962) which promised that techniques such as multi-tracking, overdubbing, and tape speed manipulation had not been applied.

Though now generally celebrated as quite a singular achievement in jazz, the contemporary controversy that surrounded the album’s release raises several interesting questions about the function of recording and the nature of the recorded artifact in jazz. What exactly is a jazz recording, anyway? What does it seek to capture, and what functional use does it fulfill for the jazz fan?
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Art of Record Production
Volume8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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