Incorporated cool jazz, bebop, post bop, and avant garde into his work. He was a highly respected jazz improvisation teacher.
He is remembered for two breakthrough jazz albums: 1955's Lennie Tristano, which experimented with overdubbing and altered tape-speed, and 1962's The New Tristano, which showcased the density and potential possessed by a solo jazz pianist.
He was born to Italian immigrants.
He never hesitated to sing the praises of Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, two of his greatest inspirations.