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Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor Big Band: Portology

Jerry D'Souza By

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Lee Konitz and Ohad Talmor first met in 1990, and then toured Europe in 1994 and 1995 with a large ensemble, playing Talmor's "Suite for Lee Konitz. Konitz later performed with Talmor's septet. And now, as part of his eightieth birthday and fifty-year career celebrations, the alto saxophonist has recorded three CDs with composer, arranger and multi-reedist Talmor. In addition to Portology, Omnitone also released New Nonet and Inventions, both in 2006.

The Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos—from Portugal—lend depth and hue to the tapestry of songs composed by Konitz and Talmor for Portology. The arrangements by Talmor are skillful. Konitz, quite naturally, has plenty of room; so, too, does the Orquestra, whose ensemble lines glow, and whose soloists show that they have a vocabulary that broadens the vision of the compositions. Together, they make this CD an aural feast.

Swing grabs hold as Konitz and the Orquestra move into "Rhythm Sweet. The medley comprises five tracks that change shape, tonality and tempo, but nevertheless slot neatly into one beautiful whole. "'Dante finds Konitz in a comfortable nook, as he brings in an edgy grace that finds its consonance and counterpoint in the horns of the band. The pace is initially retracted on "To Be or Not To before it blooms; the bank of horns making for attentive listening before Konitz lays the final cornerstone. "Fragmente flows in several directions, dictated by the tempo changes and prodded by the saxophones and the rhythm section. Konitz has his own ideas as he adds a delightful dimension with a bit of New Orleans flavor.

A New Ballad is luminous, Konitz instilling warmth with his phrasing. It is never hurried; he takes his time to get into the pith and draw from the deep well of the composition. The melody is his beacon, and he never loses that focus, showing his skill remains consummate.

Konitz billows through "Sound Lee. The innate swing, abetted by drummer Màrio Barreiros, the intertwining lines of Konitz, the reeds of the Orquestra appearing and eventually dispersing, and guitarist André Fernandes—whose short spot whets the appetite for more—give this standard in the Konitz canon a renewed vitality.

Track Listing: Sound Lee; June '05; A New Ballad; Medley: Ornetty; September 11; Ornetty (part 2). Rhythm Sweet: 'Dante; To Be or Not To; Fragmente; Tempo di Lee; Moderato. Relative Major.

Personnel: Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Ohad Talmor: conductor, arranger, musical director; Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos: Jose Luis Rego: reeds; Joao Guimaraes: reeds; Joao Pedro Brandao: reeds; Mario Santos: reeds; Ze Pedro Coelho: reeds; Rui Teixeira: reeds; Erick Poirier: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rogerio Ribeiro: trumpet, flugelhorn; Susana Silva: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jose Silva: trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Jousseein: trombones; Alvo Pinto: trombones; Daniel Dias: trombones; Goncalo Dias: trombones; Andre Fernandes: guitar; Carlos Azevedo: piano; Pedro Guedes: piano; Demian Cabaud: bass; Mario Barreiros: drums.

Title: Portology | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: OmniTone

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