On the evening of October 31, 1965, pianist Lennie Tristano performed solo at the Tivoli Gardens Concert Hall in Copenhagen. The event was captured for Danish television using multiple camera angles. Several additional Tristano concert performances were recorded on the same tour of Scandinavia and Europe. And that was it. The blind pianist performed publicly for the last time in 1968 and spent his last ten years teaching. [Photo above of Lennie Tristano in 1949]
As writer Ted Gioia has noted, Tristano did not have a manager in 1965 and told an interviewer during this tour that playing jazz was only possible if one were "making a living some other way." A bebop protagonist and cool jazz pioneer, Tristano's modern-classical approach to jazz was overlooked by labels in the '50s. By mid-decade, with the launch of the 12-inch LP, most record companies wanted brighter, more easily understood jazz for an ever-expanding at-home market.
Tristano was always an acquired taste—particularly in 1965. While most ears yearned for melody, Tristano preferred masking standards with a brutish, deconstructivist approach that left show tunes platforms for his intricate chord-driven explorations. [Photo above of Lennie Tristano by Roberto Polillo/CTSIMAGES]
Here's 40-plus minutes of Tristano at the piano in Denmark in 1965. A big JazzWax thanks to Jimi Mentis in Athens for making this historic document available...