Since I like the music of Thelonious Monk and don't have much experience with that of Lennie Tristano but really enjoy what I've heard of sax player and Tristano associate Lee Konitz, I don't know what to make of Stanley Crouch's statements:
Tristano heard himself in the line of Earl Hines, Art Tatum, and Bud Powell, all classically trained players who would have impressed a classical musician, but that Monk's creation fof a decidedly Afro-American technique and his use of space (even though it had to be derived from Basie) was too challenging to Tristano and too original. It went beyond notes and chords into the very unique range of sound Monk could draw from the instrument.
I enjoy timbre more than most and clearly Monk's sound is a great attraction. On the other hand, apparently I would be on the Tristano side of Crouch's following comment since such brass theatrics don't appeal:
One could draw from that attitude that Tristano would have hated plungers, which were so bent on reproducing the version of the black singing and speaking voice that came out of the blues.
The more I think about the first paragraph, I really like Monk but not so much Hines, Tatum and Powell. For that matter, I'm ambivalent about Keith Jarrett. Maybe's it's the classical influence on jazz piano I don't like even if the equivalent "toning down" by saxophonists like Konitz, Warne Marsh, and as Crouch suggests, Wayne Shorter, is fine by me.
For completeness, Crouch clearly states his perspective on the influence of classical music:
As you know, I do not accept the idea that jazz advances itself by following new directions, harmonies or rhythms from European classical music.
And in a wide ranging post also by Do the Math about Tristano and Obama, this surprising connection:
The title track on Descent Into the Maelstrom is an unusual tone poem created by Tristano overdubbing three or four tracks of maniacal piano. It is free - no changes - and reportedly done in 1953, although not released until the seventies. While listening to "Descent Into the Maelstrom" recently, I was strongly reminded of the player piano music of Conlon Nancarrow. When I noticed this, something in my heart relaxed. (More on Tristano's "free jazz" and the Mp3 of "Descent" at D:O!)
Rather than thinking of Tristano as a jazz player, I am going to consider him somewhere in the constellation with Nancarrow and Charles Ives, both experimental American hermits who decided not to play with others.