There are quite a few so-called tribute albums floating around, a concept that takes its urge from commercial rewards, or to take a look from another angle, a drought of compositional inspiration. This album is also a tip-of–the-hat to one of the great players on the jazz scene, but with a major difference—the source of inspiration is in the band!
Konitz has carved a deep niche over his long career. He has traversed a wide terrain, leaving landmarks that still stand in proud testimony. And he has his admirers, among them Théberge, who suggested this project to Konitz who in turn recommended that they do it without a pianist. The concept works well, enduring in the realm of musicians who are familiar with each other, have an immediate rapport and most importantly, have a bond with the music.
It is to Théberge’s credit that he did not compromise on the selection of tunes. He set his sights on some classics as well as others that are not so well known, bringing a deeper insight to the music of Konitz. The compositions are challenging, Konitz had that appreciable trait. The arrangements by Théberge give the musicians the room they need and they reach deep inside for the emotional core. Their inspired working comes alive in the subtle shades they lend, the shifting patterns they bring in and the way they flesh the tunes with their improvisations. The trade-offs and the collective explorations are a delight on “Lennie’s & L.T.” and on the enduring legacy that is “Subconscious-lee.”
Konitz plays with assurance, not merely as the master of his work, but as one who has discovered new meaning in them. He essays a depth of feeling that is articulate and stirring, as “Midnight Mood” so eloquently conveys. In sum, this is an album of constant delight.