Tristano, Lennie [Leonard] (Joseph )
- Eunmi Shim
(b Chicago, IL, March 19, 1919; d Jamaica, NY, Nov 18, 1978). American jazz pianist and teacher. He started playing the piano in early childhood and later learned to play other instruments, including clarinet and saxophone. Born with weak sight, he was blind by age nine or ten. From 1934 until 1938 he attended the Illinois School for the Blind in Jacksonville, and from 1938 until 1943 the American Conservatory in Chicago; he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1941 and stayed on for another two years taking graduate courses. Tristano began teaching in 1943; his students included lee Konitz and William Russo. Early reports of his activities indicate that his music attracted attention mainly from musicians and critics. In 1945 he published an acute criticism of Chicago’s jazz scene, addressing its commerciality and exploitative working conditions. In the spring of 1946 he wrote arrangements for the Woody Herman band and met its bass player Chubby Jackson, who, impressed by Tristano’s prowess at the keyboard, encouraged him to move to New York....