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Lee Konitz: Parallels

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Ever in the present, actively improvising today as he did in the ‘50s, Lee Konitz has produced a trenchant album for the now with, as the title suggests, parallels to the past.

Two distinct sets comprise this album. The first four songs see Konitz in a quartet arrangement. Featured guest, Mark Turner, joins on the last half of the album. The quartet ensemble covers two Konitz originals and two standards. Konitz delivers consistent solos in his cool style. At points he sounds quite melodic as on “For Hans” where he sprinkles his improvisation with familiar phrases. Guitarist, Peter Bernstein, plays airy and clear lines, which complement Konitz well. The rhythm section of Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin produces a full, almost fat, groove that fills out the effervescence of saxophone and guitar. Goodwin’s sound is particularly dynamic—he jams out rhythms when trading fours with the other instruments that get the feet tapping.

The significance of the album’s title becomes apparent during the second half of the set. Konitz’s outing with the self-avowedly Marsh-inspired Turner parallels his historic pairing with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh. The choice of three out of four of the songs—two Konitz originals and a Lennie Tristano standard—reinforces the parallels: all are titles Konitz regularly played with Marsh. On “317 East 32nd” and “Palo Alto” Konitz and Turner play themes and reprises in unison making their two horns sound like one—a trademark style Marsh and Konitz employed when they gigged together. On his solos, Turner blows light, flowing lines that harmonize with Konitz’s alto. His sharper voice emerges through occasional subdued vertical flights, as his solo on “Eyes” demonstrates.

Lee Konitz harnesses his versatile, cool sound and the creativity of a young tenor to provide a contemporary-sounding album.


Track Listing: How Deep is the Ocean; For Hans; Skylark; LT; 317 East 32nd; Palo Alto; Eyes; Subconscious Lee

Personnel: Lee Konitz - alto saxophone; Mark Turner - tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein - guitar; Steve Gilmore - bass; Bill Goodwin - drums

Title: Parallels | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Chesky Records


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