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Lee Konitz: Sound Of Surprise

Mark Corroto By

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New Lee Konitz records have recently been coming out at a rate to match David Murray’s output of the early 1990s. There are my favorites, the two Blue Note live sessions with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden, Alone Together and Another Shade Of Blue. Also, Three Guys (Enja) with Paul Motian and Steve Swallow, Dig It a reunion with Ted Brown on Steeplechase, plus a few more out this year. He seems to be able to record with small and large labels, also his pick of US, European, and Japanese companies.

Konitz started his fifty-plus year career with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, but gained fame studying and playing with Lennie Tristano. Their uninflected swing was a sharp contrast to the popular styling of Alto-God Charlie Parker. Konitz style has long since outpaced his ‘birth of the cool’ days. Long considered one of the true jazz intellectual innovators, Konitz’s music is in great demand today.

Recorded in the spring of 1999, this date is the first all-Konitz original composition recordings ever produced. Drawing from new “Singin’” and “Wingin’” as well as old tunes, “Subconsciouslee,” Konitz plays with his subtle subversive familiarity. At the urging of producer Jean-Jacques Pussiau the date features bassist Marc Johnson and two musicians that I believe have never recorded with Konitz, drummer Joey Baron and guitarist John Abercrombie. Konitz suggested Ted Brown, his longtime Tristano mate join the session, thus completing a full circle of his career. Trading saxophone duets and guitar/sax spots, Konitz work is just another day at the office. His understated style rubs off on his partners, all playing in the “less is more” mode. Joey Baron, known for his raw energy and mixed bag of drumming, plays the in-the-pocket drummer with grace. His almost straight renderings seem to be always on the money. As does Abercrombie, whose guitar lines reflect Konitz intellect. It’s great to hear this jazz conversation.

Track List:Hi Beck; Gundula; Mr. 88; Bits And Pieces; Blues Suite; Friendlee; Soddy And Bowl; Singin’; Wingin’; Thingin’; Crumbles; Subconsciouslee.


Personnel: Lee Konitz

Title: Sound Of Surprise | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: RCA Victor


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