As elucidated in the excellent, detailed, and authoritative liner notes by veteran critic Bob Blumenthal, Tristano was celebrated (or excoriated) for the rigor of his vision and the stubbornness of his pedagogy (two months after these performances the native Chicagoan opened a jazz school in Manhattan), and too often his actual playing has been obscured by the potency of his concepts. This dazzling set offers strong evidence of his skill and the special rapport he had with his disciples—Konitz and Marsh, in particular, sound fantastic throughout. There are very few live documents of the group from this period, so this set kind of blows the doors open.
Tristano and his cohorts were masters of understanding the myriad possibilities of harmony within set chord changes, and some of the "original" tunes here are little more than melodic lines written with the changes of more famous works: Tristano actually introduces a reading of "Background Music" as a Warne Marsh composition called "All of Me" (which is a pop standard from the early 30s). As you can hear on the version of the Konitz-Marsh piece "Sax of a Kind" below, the group dynamic was truly special.
Per Henrik Wallin Trio, Coyote (Dragon)
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed)
Stefano Battaglia Trio, Songways (ECM)
O'Jays, We'll Never Forget you: the Imperial Years 1963-1966 (Shout!)
Wolf Eyes, Slicer (Hanson)