Interview: Lennie Niehaus (Part 5) - JazzWax

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November 13, 2009


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Jeff Rzepiela


Thanks so much for this great feature on a marvelous player, writer, and person!

- Scooby

Richard Tabnik

Sad to say, the tracks with Lennie Tristano, Bird, and Kenny Clarke [not art blakey] were never issued in a legal form [meaning that the estates get paid!]. Since Clint owns the tapes now, that is his responsibility. I actually wrote a letter about this at the time of the movie that was printed in 4 jazz magazines. What i suggested was the release of a CD entitled "Bird: not the movie" with all the tracks in their original form and the estates getting paid. I also sent a certified letter with a return receipt to Clint Eastwood when he was mayor of Carmel CA so i know that it got there...

The reason the tracks with Tristano are so important is that Bird plays differently with Lennie and it also indicates where Bird 'wanted to go." While most everyone else in the world was getting rich off Bird's licks, Tristano was a complete original. Bird was booked to play in a quartet with him in Boston but, sadly, passed away before the gig. This fact is verifiable in the Boston newspapers of the time, available at the library.

It's too bad; Clint has made a 'lie' legal and the truth illegal...

here is a URL with some exchanges i had with people about the subject of Bird the movie soundtrack

Stay Tuned!
Richard Tabnik
[cd #'s 1003, 1011, 1015, 1016, 1035, 1041, and 1043]
free samples and video...

John Hulaton


Thanks for this interview. I always enjoy your work. I had forgotten that I cried when I saw that scene in Bridges not because of the feelings of sadness and loss it was supposed to invoke, but because the music was so hauntingly beautiful.

dusty cashio

Eastwood and niehaus are both world class composers.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Rock Concert: An Oral History" (Grove), "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards
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