496

Lee Konitz: New Nonet

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count
Lee Konitz
New Nonet
OmniTone
2006

The latter part of the '70s found alto saxophonist Lee Konitz leading a nonet (after a couple of unofficial and partial attempts in 1959 and 1967). The group made albums in 1976 (Roulette), 1977 (Chiaroscuro) and 1979 (SteepleChase and Soul Note). In 2003, a new version of the group was convened for New York and international festival appearances. The current incarnation has peformed on occasion, most recently at Jazz Standard in June in support of the first new Konitz nonet recording in over two decades.

There are parallels to be drawn between the groups, despite the long layoff. Konitz and his composing are, of course, still at the center. It is easy, when seeing Konitz playing live, to forget he has been professionally performing since the '40s. Easy because his sound is still vital, his humor still infectious and his concept still utterly relevant. But what makes the nonet, be it 1977 or 2006, so significant is the matching of this concept with younger players.

The younger player most important to the new edition is saxophonist Ohad Talmor, who shoulders the arranging duties earlier held by Sy Johnson. On the earlier albums, the material was Konitz originals mixed with other tunes, many by trombonist Jimmy Knepper. This disc, recorded live at Jazz Standard last August, presents a program entirely made up of new Konitz music (apart from one piece composed by Talmor), including the six-part "ChromaticLee Suite (Konitz has gotten full mileage out of his flexible name for decades).

Konitz is a treasure and Talmor is, as always, an impressive arranger. But a nonet is about texture and depth and that is the responsibility of the musicians. Talmor, in choosing the players, demonstrates his good judgement: Russ Johnson (trumpet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Oscar Noriega and Dennis Lee (bass clarinets), Dimos Goudaroulis (cello), Ben Monder (guitar), Bob Bowen (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums). The combination of confident players and interesting instrumentation—one chordal instrument, cello and two bass clarinets not the normal trappings of a small big band—are a unique vehicle for interpreting Konitz's slyly subversive compositions.

The Suite is a nice opener to the disc but the album actually becomes more compelling on the individual tunes, particularly the Konitz homage to Talmor, "Ohad. When the music is pretty (dare I say "cool"?), it flows along smoothly and politely. When the music packs more force, the result is more gripping, the various tonal ranges delighting the auditory palate. At times though, one wishes that the band would have spread out more, though there are enough longer, looser tunes on the disc to satisfy.

At a late night set at Jazz Standard in June, the format was maintained but there were replacements on cello and guitar. Greg Heffernan was a more inventive string player and Pete McCann's guitar licks were less ethereal. Perhaps this or maybe the band's comfort level increasing over a week of gigs resulted in more entertaining sound than the album. The feel was more open and the compositions interpreted with more cerebral verve. One hopes that, with the obvious communication between the group and a fine new record, Konitz's nonet will have a longer run this time with industry support. Konitz is certainly up to it.


Tracks: ChromaticLee Suite; Outward; Big Easy; West Coast; Funky; Ominous; Colorful; Springin'; Ohad; Warmer in Heaven; Wallz; Rubato.

Personnel: Bob Bowen: bass; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Dimos Goudaroulis: cello; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Denis Lee: bass clarinet; Ben Monder: guitar; Oscar Noriega: bass clarinet: clarinet; Ohad Talmor: tenor saxophone: musical director; Matt Wilson: drums.

Track Listing: ChromaticLee Suite; Outward; Big Easy; West Coast; Funky; Ominous; Colorful; Springin'; Ohad; Warmer in Heaven; Wallz; Rubato.

Personnel: Bob Bowen: bass; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Dimos Goudaroulis: cello; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Denis Lee: bass clarinet; Ben Monder: guitar; Oscar Noriega: bass clarinet: clarinet; Ohad Talmor: tenor saxophone: musical director; Matt Wilson: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: OmniTone | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House Extended Analysis Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House
by John Kelman
Published: March 4, 2017
Read Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Unreleased Art: Volume 9 - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At Donte's, April 26, 1974" Extended Analysis Unreleased Art: Volume 9 - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings" Extended Analysis Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Grateful Dead: Dave's Pick's Vol. 19: Honolulu, Hawaii, 1/23/70" Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Dave's Pick's Vol. 19: Honolulu,...
by Doug Collette
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Steve Khan: Eyewitness Trilogy" Extended Analysis Steve Khan: Eyewitness Trilogy
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2016
Read "Tony Williams: Life Time" Extended Analysis Tony Williams: Life Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Various Artists: Yugoslavian Space Program" Extended Analysis Various Artists: Yugoslavian Space Program
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: October 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

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!