Reference: FSRCD 5068
Bar code: 8427328650687
[...] Four tracks were recorded at a small concert hall in Teaneck, New Jersey (three tunes prior to the concert and one during the performance). The other five selections were recorded at Sette MoMA, a club within the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The Teaneck hall had this wonderful Baldwin grand piano that we dug. A favorite of mine from this date is "Klactoveedsedstene," (Bird’s new melody on Perdido). Larry plays Parker's improvised bridge beautifully: I think he captured Bird’s feeling accurately and soulfully. "Larry’s Line" is a Bluth original that used material he was working on with Mosca, it's over the structure of Cole Porter's "I Love You." The line is stunning. It's the only time we recorded it. On the Sette MoMa gig, we were booked for two nights, four sets a night. I still remember how much I really enjoyed playing "Sippin' at Bell's," and how nervous I was trying to play that line with Larry. "Riverdale" is a group improvisation on the form of "You'd Be So Nice to Come To." It's a tune that our trio played often and the minor key was something that Larry was able to stretched out on. With Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," Larry changed the harmony of first four bars and this small change really opened it up for us. On "Sound-Lee" I dig how Larry waited many choruses before playing Lee Konitz's line leading into the bass solo.
—Don Messina, taken from the inside liner notes
"Back in 2020, bassist and long-time e-pal Don Messina emailed me about a couple of tapes in his possession that hadn't been released. One was by the Larry Bluth Trio from 2001. The other was a collection of solo recordings by Sal Mosca in 1970 and 1997. My ears went up upon hearing about both tapes. What the two had in common was Lennie Tristano.
Bluth was a long-time student of Sal Mosca, a student of Tristano, a blind New York pianist who, in the late 1940s, invented a new approach to jazz improvisation built on motifs, polyrhythms, strict time and chromaticism. All fancy words, but to the naked ear, Tristano's approach sounded like Art Tatum and bebop played backward. All of this led to one of the first so-called free-jazz recordings in 1949 by Tristano and his quintet. Deeply influenced by Tristano's "cool" approach were Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Arnold Fishkind, Billy Bauer, Peter Ind, Charles Mingus, Joe Shulman, Jeff Morton, Connie Crothers and many others.
Don, along with drummer Bill Chattin, were members of the Larry Bluth Trio, a terrific group I last posted about here in 2020. Don also is close with Kathy Mosca and the Sal Mosca estate. In 2020, I asked Don to send along the recordings so I could give a listen. When he did, I flipped. The music on both tapes was exceptional and needed to be heard. I asked Don what he planned to do with the tapes. Don said he wanted to put them out but it would be a time-consuming struggle. I proposed an easier way to do just that. Don said he was open, so I alerted Jordi Pujol at Fresh Sound Records in Spain. Jordi gave a listen and he, too, flipped. So I put Don together with Jordi.
Now the glorious music I heard in 2020 is out on two Fresh Sound releases—Never More Here by the Larry Bluth Trio and Sal Mosca for Lennie Tristano: Solo Piano, 1970 and 1997. For those of you unfamiliar with Fresh Sound, Jordi is a jazz hero who has rescued lost and unissued jazz albums and released them on his label. He has single-handedly revived hundreds of albums that never would have been available if not for his passion and determination.
As you'll hear, the Larry Bluth Trio was a terrific, firmly unified group deep into Tristano's fascinating approach. The tracks are Charlie Parker's Klactoveedsedstene; Miles Davis's Sippin' at Bells; the standards Sweet and Lovely, A Ghost of a Chance, Yesterdays and These Foolish Things; the Bluth Trio's Riverdale, Bluth's Larry's Line and Lee Konitz's Sound-Lee.
Bluth's piano is absolutely gorgeous, adding flecks of Thelonious Monk to his Tristano attack. Don's bass unleashes ribbons of counterpoint to Bluth's piano while Chattin's drums toss in patterns as if throwing dice. The conversational quality of these three musicians playing together is breathtaking.
As for the Sal Mosca album, let me have Don tell it from his liner notes:
During my seven-year archival project transferring all of Sal's personal recordings to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, I uncovered this reel-to-reel audio tape in Sal's Mt. Vernon, N.Y. studio, tucked away in a drawer in his corner desk separate from all of his other tapes. It was tied closed with string from top to bottom as well as from side to side. On the back of the cardboard box, written in Sal's exquisite penmanship, were the words, "Solo Tape for Lennie Tristano, February 2, 1970." I was so excited that this tape (if it was still playable) would have some really great early Sal Mosca piano playing. I had to wait a few weeks until I was able to locate a high-end tape player before I could listen.
The tape, Don said, was a gift from student to teacher and labeled by Tristano in braille. How the tape managed to make it back to Mosca is unknown. Most likely, it was returned to him after Tristano's passing. The key question Don had to ask himself was whether the material on the tape was important enough to release or was it just more of the same. Everyone he asked told him that the tape's solo work advanced our impression of Mosca, especially given that the playing on most of the tape was recorded exclusively for Tristano to hear. What Tristano's reaction was is unknown. Don knew the works were recorded five years before Mosca's first solo album, which made the tape worthy as his earliest singular effort. The fact that the music was glorious meant he had to find a way to release it. Enter Jordi.
Now you can hear what I heard that day in 2020. The liner notes to both albums are by Don, and his Mosca musings include a superb interview he conducted with saxophonist Jimmy Halperin, a student of both Tristano and Mosca. I'm sure you'll feel as I did and do that the music on both CDs is exceptional. I, for one, am grateful it's out for the world to enjoy. Hats off to Don, Kathy Mosca and Jordi.
Lennie Tristano died in 1978, Sal Mosca died in 2007 and Larry Bluth died in 2020."
—Marc Myers (April 19, 2022)