Lee Konitz: Lee Konitz Meets Alessandro Lanzoni Trio (2009)
This CD is exciting enough to require several titles, beginning with Lee Konitz meets Alessandro Lanzoni Trio, then Poetical Lee, then 81+15=96!, before concluding with the parenthetical (for Bill Evans). But it's the exclamatory equation 81+15=96! that's at the heart of the enthusiasm, declaring the respective ages of altoist Konitz and pianist Lanzoni. There's a celebration of survival here, as much for a style as a senior musician, for Paolo Piangiarelli has long championed bop-era American saxophonistshis Philology label celebrates knowledge of Phil Woods, not a general love of knowledge, and its greatest project is its many volumes of Charlie Parker ephemera.
Some of the gems of the catalogue are Konitz's meetings with sublimely lyrical Italian pianists, most notably Enrico Pieranunzi and Stefano Battaglia. It's a distinct tradition that has transformed the initial influence of Bill Evans into a special national lineage, and the 15 year-old Alessandro Lanzoni is its latest incarnation. At this stage in his development, he's no Pieranunzinor is anybody elsebut he's a compelling player in a thoughtful vein, already more than promising. There's real feeling and invention in his playing rather than the rote learning that might be feared. It's Konitz, if anyone, who's showing his age, sounding at times more tentative than usual, but even at 80 (the session took place a mere three days after his 80th birthday) he's a genuinely improvisatory player, taking chances, still looking for the road not taken. Together he and Lanzoni achieve an almost heartbreaking sweetness on the ballads "Never Let Me Go" and "You Must Believe in Spring" (surely the group's theme song). It's a touching and evocative encounter, fully worthy of Evans' memory, with able support from bassist Ares Tavolazzia fine soloistand drummer Walter Paoli, whose names appear in the liner notes rather than in the credits, evidently neither old enough nor young enough to qualify for back panel listing.
Track Listing: The Touch of Your Lips; Let's Have A Talk; Peri's Scope; Never Let Me Go; Funkallero; You Must Believe in Spring; In Your Own Sweet Way; Nardis; Beautiful Love; Body and Soul.
Personnel: Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Alessandro Lanzoni: piano: Ares Tavolazzi: bass; Walter Paoli: drums.