Costumes Are Mandatory is very collegially advertised as a collaborative album featuring Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier, and Jorge Rossy. And while the music may indeed be collaborative, even multi-improvisational at times, it's Iverson's date and he's very clearly the leader. The record is envisioned as an homage to--"a dialogue with," according to the liner notes--the late blind pianist Lennie Tristano, who in addition to generally being credited as a founder of the 'cool school' (an oversimplification, to be sure), and an early avant-garde pioneer, was also a primary teacher and influence on Konitz (as well as ...read more
Besides being one of the few altoists that emerged in the 1950s that doesn't sound like Charlie Parker, Lee Konitz was a true musical adventurer whose explorations in free jazz, electronic instruments, and just all around anything goes sessions resulted in some of the most exciting music that came out of the fifties and beyond. His playing, which is marked by a detachment and intellectualism that can sound rehearsed, isn't for everyone, but there's no doubt that Konitz has, and continues to be, an inspiration to many. Four Classic Albums collects some of Konitz's lesser-known work from the 1950s--not his ...read more
Lee Konitz is legendary as one of the great individualists in jazz, an art form that has always placed an extraordinary high value on individualism and unique forms of expression. I've pretty much dedicated myself to trying to figure out what true improvising is," he says, as opposed to playing what you know and getting loose with it. I probably have a bit of a unique place in being able to fool around with famous tunes the way I do."Konitz's focus on standards common to the jazz repertoire continues on the 2012 recording that features him prominently in ...read more
At almost 85 years old Lee Konitz can play whatever he damn well pleases on his alto saxophone, and it's a good thing he does. He may currently be making some of the most interesting music of his long career. Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note teams Konitz with three first-rate musicians--all jazz stars in their own right--for an album of standards so loosely interpreted that finding the recognizable melody is a bit like a Where's Waldo" puzzle. It's in there. Keep looking.This record is truly detached from the structured cool of early Konitz albums like Subconscious-Lee ...read more
Super groups are, by their very nature, either bright shining stars or catastrophic exploding supernovae. Dream team basketball lineups get beat by upstarts, and the new Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Van Damme movie is sure to be a nonstarter. The reasons for the flops are usually chemistry and vision, both essential requirements.Same can be said for jazz groups. Listen to a longstanding unit work and its affinity is obvious. Assemble a quartet for a night, or fortnight and evidence of its chemistry (or lack of it) is apparent straightaway.Such rapport is instantly recognizable from this live 2011 date at New ...read more
Lee Konitz/Bill Frisell/Gary Peacock/Joey Baron Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue NoteHalf Note Records2012The idea of going into a club and playing a set of standards without any plans, preconceptions or pre-arrangements ain't exactly new; it's what plenty of jazz musicians do, each and every night. But it's one thing to go in and run down some Real Book charts, head-solo-head style, and give everyone a chance to stretch out and solo on some familiar material; it's another thing entirely to be at a level where the material is reinvented, set after ...read more
Lee Konitz and Martial SolalStar Eyes 1983Hatology2009 Even in his eighties, pianist Martial Solal has proven to be the Higgs' Boson of jazz. He readily demonstrates the substantial mass he brings to music most recently on his uniformly excellent Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Cam Jazz, 2008). This recording is sub-atomic, elemental jazz ,or, in the literary vernacular, post-modern, deconstructive jazz. Solal dismantled the Great American Songbook, revealing the provocative intellect and seamy interior of this great songwriting. He also demonstrated that free improvisation can ...read more
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