Lee Konitz: Live-Lee

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Lee Konitz: Live-Lee Few jazz musicians have made as successful and long-running use of the name-based pun as Lee Konitz. Sharing phonetic semblance to an almost ubiquitously applicable suffix certainly helps. In fact, that other famous Lee (Morgan that is) probably came closest in number with these sort of clever play-on-words compositions. Had the trumpeter been blessed with the longevity of the saxophonist, he might well have surpassed him. But all this is really moot when it comes to the music. Lee Konitz continues to hold court as one of the most inventive improvisors in the century- plus old idiom of jazz. His instantly recognizable alto still actively seeks out new and flexible springboards from which to soar.

Fall of 2000 presented just such a setting when Konitz convened with pianist Alan Broadbent for a week-long stretch at the Jazz Bakery. The venue remains one of Konitz’s favorite and most frequented West Coast haunts and his comfortable familiarity with the surroundings usually results in exemplary music. Past projects like the two album summit with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden, captured on Alone Together and Another Shade of Blue, being but two examples. Konitz isn’t shy about his preferences when it comes to standards. He’s been referencing the same core batch for decades and several of the perennials receive full bloom renderings here.

Broadbent’s punctuations of the Konitz-driven melody on “I’ll Remember April” start out a bit wobbly, but soon the duo finds a complimentary stride. Spooling out fluttery ribbons of notes, the saxophonist seems perfectly at home in the familiar ballad surroundings. “Sweet and Lovely” sustains the romantic mood with the pianist piloting the improvisatory trolley this time out of the gate. The resulting nimble patterning of prefatory chords spreads out into a launching pad Konitz’s crisply carbonated alto, a spring of bubbly phrases pouring in easy spouts from the bell of his horn. Broadbent rolls back into a supportive stance with stair-step scalar comping before embarking on another involved solo across the keys.

On Charlie Parker signature “Cherokee,” a perfect compliment to the earlier “Sequentialee,” both in title and swaying bebop line. Konitz fattens his tone even further through an acappella introduction, ingeniously incorporating space and an implied sense of rhythm as he suspends curlicued phrases for carefully measured seconds. These bold unaccompanied passages are among the finest moments of the disc. Broadbent answers with a circuitous jaunt through the theme, also in isolation, until the two come together for a tight and agile summation. “Gundula,” eponymously dedicated to Konitz’s wife, acts another ideal vehicle for his bittersweet locutions, this time with a heartfelt emotion prominently on hand.

So it goes through a handful of other tunes, most notably “317 East 32nd Street,” an address, it turns out, that was home to Lennie Tristano’s New York studio and “Subconscious-Lee,” the saxophonist’s calling card since early Fifties. The latter pun-spun piece encapsulates, both in title and execution, the extrasensory level at which Konitz always seems to operate. While it’s true that the man’s discography now numbers easily in the triple digits, and a fair share of those entries are duo situations with piano as foil, skeptics would be hard pressed to find any two Konitz albums that deliver the same surprises and content. This set is just as autonomous and adds another unique volume to the shelves of what is now a library of modern classics.

Visit Milestone on the web.

Track Listing: I

Personnel: Lee Konitz- alto saxophone; Alan Broadbent- piano. Recorded: October 20-22, 2000, Los Angeles, CA.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "When You Wish Upon a Star" CD/LP/Track Review When You Wish Upon a Star
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 3, 2016
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Anthology - Bigger Than Life" CD/LP/Track Review Anthology - Bigger Than Life
by Doug Collette
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Sea Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Sea Changes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Illustrations" CD/LP/Track Review Illustrations
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 7, 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!