Leonard Joseph Tristano, 19 March 1919, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 18 November 1978, New York City, New York, USA. Encouraged by his mother, Tristano learned piano and various reed instruments while still a very small child, despite steadily deteriorating eyesight (he was born during a measles epidemic). By the age of 11 he was completely blind but, overcoming this handicap, he studied formally at the American Conservatory in Chicago, graduating in 1943. Before graduation he had already established a reputation as a session musician and teacher, including among his pupils outstanding talents such as Lee Konitz and Bill Russo. He also made a handful of records with Earl Swope. Based in New York from 1946, he worked with Charlie Parker and other leading bop musicians and attracted considerable attention within the jazz community, even if his work was little known outside (his first recordings were not released until many years later).
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