Bill Evans and Lee Konitz: Play the Arrangements of Jimmy Giuffre (1959)
Merged from two brilliant 1959 studio sessions, this disc is, just as the title and artist credits suggest, a showcase for three immense talents. Those expecting to hear the snap-crackle of Roy Haynes' snare or Bob Brookmeyer's punctuated counterpoints after reading the all-star lineup may be surprised to hear them relegated to the background, but any disappointment will end there. The brilliant playing of Konitz and Evans, paired with Jimmy Giuffre's sensitive arrangements, is enough to satisfy any true jazz lover.
Assembled for the album Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre, the first band, a quintet of saxophones backed by the rhythmic underpinnings of Evans, bassist Buddy Clark and drummer Ronnie Free, immediately shows its musicality on the angular, quasi-atonal "Palo Alto. After a rundown of the pointillistic Giuffre arrangement, Konitz jumps in and alternately toys with and floats over the buoyantly swinging rhythm section and airy horn backgrounds. Konitz and Evans solo at length on "Somp'm Outa' Nothin', which can only be described as a blues that has a hard time getting off the "one" chord. The arrangement is quintessential Guiffre, with its dense tone clusters and recurring rhythmic pedal; Evans takes incredible liberties with the harmonic structure and shows an early affinity for Monk.
Following a chamber-jazz reworking of "Darn That Dream, in which Giuffre masterfully exploits the subtle harmonic movements using a quintet of saxophones, the album is rounded out with a number of tracks from the '59 album You And Lee. Recorded five months after the initial Konitz/Giuffre studio session, this date finds a trio of trumpets and trombones replacing the saxophone section and adding a distinct edge to the music. Konitz is clearly the leader here; his probing, inventive solos are featured throughout the lineup of reworked standards, and the comping work is split by Evans' piano and the earthy guitar of Jim Hall. The tunes, especially "You Don't Know What Love Is, show Konitz at his best. He dazzles the listener with his sensitivity and invention and revels in the shimmering, transparent beauty evoked by Giuffre's arrangements.
Track Listing: Palo Alto; When You Lover Has Gone; Cork 'N' Bib; Somp'm Outa' Nothin'; Someone to Watch Over Me; Uncharted; Moonlight In Vermont; The Song Is You; Darn That Dream; Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs To You); You Don't Know What Love Is; I Didn't Know About You; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; You're Driving Me Crazy; You're Clear Out Of This World; The More I See You; You Are Too Beautiful.
Personnel: Band 1: Lee Konitz, Hal McKusick: alto saxophone; Ted Brown, Warne Marsh: tenor saxophone; Jimmy Giuffre: baritone saxophone/arrangements; Bill Evans: piano; Buddy Clark: bass; Ronnie Free: drums. Band 2: Marky Markowitz, Ernie Royal, Phil Sunkel: trumpet; Eddie Bert, Billy Byers; trombone; Bob Brookmeyer: valve trombone; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Bill Evans; piano; Sonny Dallas: bass; Roy Haynes: drums; Jimmy Giuffre: arranger, conductor.