Lee Konitz/Martial Solal: European Episode Impressive Rome (2007)
Lee Konitz has been ever the pliable innovator over sixty years since he began (at twenty with Lennie Tristano) beating a cooler, looser bebop path divergent from that of Charlie Parker. Konitz has always enjoyed head-to-head confrontationshe laid down an album of iconoclastic duets in 1967and keeping that ego-free persona. Fleet meets phlegmatic in this exquisite 1968 meeting during a Konitz tour of Europe with Algerian-born pianist Martial Solal and le plus grand rhythm section in all Europe back then: drummer Daniel Humair and bassist Henri Texier.
The kaleidoscopic, Tristano-esque (often bitonal) "Collage on Standards rambles over one-third of disc one, not merely touching but massaging Tin Pan Alley ("Please Be Kind, "Johnny One Note, "My Funny Valentine ), Rodgers & Hammerstein ("The Song Is You, "People Will Say We're In Love, "Old Man River ) and Euro-faves ("Come Back To Sorrento, Chopin licks). Superb call and response on "Lover Man, the first impressionistic, with Konitz languid over Solal's arpeggios, the second plus lent et bleu. "Roman Blues, closely recalling "Baby, Baby All The Time, likewise enjoys medium and slow versions. "Anthropology nods to Bird, saluting his discursive and playful sides respectively, the faster version with superb stop-time choruses and precision drum breaks.
Paying tribute to the duo format are two phantasmagoric takes. A spacey, free-form ménage à trois pins Konitz and Humair, the latter doubling highly percussive piano and whale-singing, perhaps thru mic feedback. On "Stella by Starlight, Konitz and Solal go for snappy traditionalism, crisply limning the tune's bones with reversed bass line roles and circling its aura with elliptical harmonies. Moreover, the recording's odd, sometimes watery Doppler-like effect (a puckish engineer?) makes Konitz sound at times like he's duetting with his own shadow.
Track Listing: Collage on Standards; Duet for Saxophone, Drums and Piano; Anthropology (I Ver); Lover Man (II Ver); Roman Blues (II Ver); Anthropology (II Ver); Impressive Rome; Lover Man (I Ver); Stella By Starlight; Roman Blues (II Ver).
Personnel: Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Martial Solal: piano; Henri Texier: bass; Daniel Humair: drums.