Jazz Composers Collective featuring Lee Konitz

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
"Intuitive Jazz: The Lennie Tristano Legacy"
Tribeca Performing Arts Center

The "Lost Jazz Shrines" concert series, hosted by the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in downtown Manhattan, is now in its third year. The lost "shrine" being honored in this year’s series is the Half Note, and on the docket for May were tributes to Jimmy Rushing and the "Half-Note Tenors" — Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster, and Sonny Stitt. But to kick off the series, the young mavericks of the Jazz Composers Collective were tapped to shed light on one of the most fascinating figures ever to perform at the dearly departed club: the late Lennie Tristano.
Alto legend Lee Konitz, who worked with Tristano extensively, led the first half of the concert. Employing the musicians at hand in different combinations, Konitz displayed the full range of his warm and measured sound. Beginning with an unaccompanied, mid-tempo "The Song Is You," he spun phrases filled with wit and intelligence, wasting not a note. Pianist Frank Kimbrough joined him for an original ballad called "Wünderbar." (Konitz lives in Germany.) Then bassist Ben Allison and drummer Tony Moreno backed him on a trio version of "Stella By Starlight." You’d never expect it, but Konitz forgot how the song went, so he very calmly asked the audience to hum the first two bars. Reminded instantly, he jovially invited the audience to sing along and counted the tune off. Playing the first chorus alone, he paused midway and remarked, "Quiet band."
The remainder of the set included the Konitz compositions "Thingin’," "LT," and "Subconscious-Lee," as well as Tristano’s "317 East 22nd Street." The full band tackled these numbers. Ron Horton contributed characteristically brilliant solos on trumpet and flugelhorn, but the highlight was the interplay between Konitz and the young tenor whiz Mark Turner, which made for a rich comparative study.
Turner and Konitz sat out most of the second half, making way for tenor saxophonist Michael Blake. Much as Blake, Allison, Kimbrough, and Horton have done with the music of Herbie Nichols, they brought their own sensibilities to bear on pieces by Tristano, Konitz, and the late tenor player Warne Marsh, one of Tristano’s notable students and devotees. Beginning with the lively "Wow," the group moved on to a Marsh-penned extrapolation on "Cherokee" changes titled "Marshmallow." Kimbrough sat out for Konitz’s "Tautology," and then Turner rejoined the group for a funky reading of "Dixie’s Dilemma." "Lennie’s Pennies," Tristano’s minor-key reworking of "Pennies from Heaven," closed the set, with Blake sitting out. Konitz returned for "Carrie’s Trance," a full-company encore.

Once again, the Jazz Composers Collective proved itself one of the most inventive forces in the jazz world. While the brilliance of their original music speaks for itself, their approach to non-original music reveals almost as much about them. Not content to explore the aspects of jazz history that everyone already knows, they delve into the deepest recesses of the tradition, looking for hidden treasures. Honoring a neglected figure like Lennie Tristano, they also honor themselves and serious jazz fans everywhere.


More Articles

Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read Kronos Festival 2017 Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017
Read The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Barranquijazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Barranquijazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at The Rusty Nail" Live Reviews The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at The Rusty Nail
by Doug Collette
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2016" Live Reviews Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2016
by John Kelman
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "The Pat Martino Quintet at Chris’ Jazz Café" Live Reviews The Pat Martino Quintet at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!