Lee Konitz Past and Present

Jeff Stockton By

Sign in to view read count
You'd think that by now the influence and relevance of someone present at the Birth of the Cool might be frozen in time, but for Lee Konitz, after sixty years of alto innovation and excellence, reissues, first-time releases and new projects continue to appear at a steady clip.

Lee Konitz
2004 (1969)

Peacemeal , initially recorded and released in 1969, demonstrates that while Konitz never abandoned his trademark cleverness and laid back style, he flirted with the avant-garde by incorporating electric instruments and playing with young musicians, such as the unmistakable Jack DeJohnette. The three centerpiece tracks here are compositions by the classical Hungarian composer Béla Bartók recast for jazz quintet, and "Thumb Under" features a rockish drumbeat, Eddie Gomez' steady bass and Dick Katz' electric piano. On "Village Joke" each musician takes his turn with the tradition-inspired Hungarian melody, while Gomez and DeJohnette lock down the steps of the "Peasant Dance." You can hear DeJohnette itching to stretch out on the title track's varied tempos, with Gomez and Katz as willing partners, while Konitz' electric horn creates a soothing mellow warmth that echoes his alto in a lower register.

Lee Konitz/Alan Broadbent
More Live-Lee
2004 (2000)

In 2000, Konitz joined pianist Alan Broadbent for two nights at the Jazz Bakery in California. This fertile meeting has now produced More Live-Lee , the sequel to the original issued last year. The standards and familiar Konitz originals played here are pure melody, with the altoist demonstrating the regal calm and wit of an elder statesman. Note his whispery and raspy tone on "I Can't Get Started," the seemingly endless fount of ideas for "Body and Soul," and Broadbent's spot-on left hand heard on "Thingin'."

Mark Masters Ensemble with Lee Konitz
One Day with Lee

One Day with Lee is the Konitz of today, fronting a 14-piece band on tunes from the leader's songbook. Konitz has gotten grittier and more expressive since the early days, and he willfully digs into the warm blues of "Cork 'n' Bib," while "317 East 32nd Street" not only inspires the altoist to three improvisations, it draws fire from the saxophone section and solos for trumpet and trombone. Trumpets dialogue on "Palo Alto," and on "Dream Stepper" and "Gundula" the big band create a spinning colorwheel of sound.

Konitz says that when he runs out of ideas, he takes the horn out of his mouth. As these CDs show, as he approaches 80, Lee Konitz is a giant of jazz who shows that it's simply too late to stop now.


Tracks: 1. Thumb Under (No. 90 from Mikrokosmos) (3:16); 2. Lester Leaps In (3:26); 3. Village Joke (No. 130 from Mikrokosmos) (4:09); 4. Something to Sing (4:13); 5. Peacemeal (7:08); 6. Body and Soul (5:09); 7. Peasant Dance (No. 128 from Mikrokosmos) (5:02); 8. Fourth Dimension (4:39); 9. Second Thoughts (3:10); 10. Subconscious Lee (4:15); 11. Lester Leaps In [*] (3:23); 12. Body and Soul [*] (6:37); 13. Subconscious Lee [*] (5:54).
Personnel: Marshall Brown: Baritone Horn, Valve Trombone; Jack DeJohnette: Drums; Eddie Gomez: Bass; Dick Katz: Piano, Electric Piano; Lee Konitz: Alto, Soprano, and Tenor Saxophones.

More Live-Lee

Tracks: 1. Invitation (7:34); 2. Body and Soul (6:21); 3. Thingin' (6:47); 4. You Stepped Out of a Dream (5:40); 5. Nothin' (4:10); 6. I Can't Get Started (8:03); 7. Lennie's Pennies (6:53); 8. How Deep Is the Ocean? (7:18); 9. You Go to My Head (4:33); 10. Bending Broadly (2:55); 11. Just Friends (5:52).
Personnel: Alan Broadbent: Piano; Lee Konitz: Alto Saxophone.

One Day with Lee

Tracks: 1. Thingin' (7:24); 2. Dream Stepper (10:42); 3. Gundula (7:29); 4. Cork 'N' Bib (10:16); 5. 317 East 32nd Street (11:14); 6. Lover Man (8:31); 7. Palo Alto (8:30).
Personnel: Les Benedict: Trombone; Cecilia Coleman: Piano; Bob Enevoldsen: Trombone; Scott Englebright: Trumpet; Louis Fasman: Trumpet; Steve Huffsteter: Trumpet; Kendall Kay: Drums; Lee Konitz: Alto Sax; Mark Masters: Conductor; Jack Montrose: Saxophone; Bill Perkins: Saxophone; Jerry Pinter: Saxophone; Putter Smith: Bass; Ron Stout: Trumpet; Dave Woodley: Trombone.


More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Marc Copland: Zenith and Haunted Heart" Multiple Reviews Marc Copland: Zenith and Haunted Heart
by John Ephland
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…" Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series" Multiple Reviews Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series
by John Eyles
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "Badbadnotgood Is Truly Goodgoodnotbad" Multiple Reviews Badbadnotgood Is Truly Goodgoodnotbad
by Dave Wayne
Published: December 20, 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!