Lee Konitz

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Motion (1961), 6/10
The Lee Konitz Duets (1967), 7/10
Altissimo (1973), 6.5/10
Satori (1974), 6/10
Owls Talk (2009), 5.5/10

Chicago's white alto saxophonist Lee Konitz (1927) was the quintessential "cool" musician, having played with Claude Thornhill (1947), Miles Davis (1948) and Lennie Tristano (1949). His art was largely one of phrasing and timbres, not melodies and rhythms. He showed how to incorporate Charlie Parker's ideas while inventing a new kind of music. Konitz composed Tautology and Subconscious-Lee (january 1949) for the Quintet with pianist Lennie Tristano and guitarist Billy Bauer that became one of the most influential acts of post-war jazz. Konitz continued to experiment in the following years, for example in a Duet for Saxophone and Guitar (march 1951) with Bauer, and on Motion (august 1961), for a trio with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Sonny Dallas, but mostly stuck to covers while he was playing with gurus of the cool movement such as Stan Kenton (1953), Gerry Mulligan (1953) and Jimmy Giuffre (1959). His artistic peak was probably The Lee Konitz Duets (september 1967), a series of duets with different instruments (tenor, piano, trombone, violin, guitar, second saxophone) that ran the gamut from traditional jazz to cool jazz to free jazz (particularly Duplexity with piano). Konitz's cool style permeated his (rare) compositions: Fourth Dimension (march 1969) for a piano-trombone quintet, Love Choral and Fanfare on Altissimo (july 1973), a collaboration with altoists Gary Bartz, Jackie McLean and Charlie Mariano, Free Blues on Satori (september 1974), in a quartet with pianist Martial Solal, bassist David Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, and several (and sometimes lengthy) improvisations on jazz and pop standards. Compared with Charlie Parker, Konitz was ethereal and aloof, preferring high tones over deep tones. His playing was less intricate and less strident.

Alexandra Grimal (tenor and soprano saxes), Lee Konitz (alto sax), Gary Peacock (bass), and drummer Paul Motian recorded Owls Talk (december 2009).

Creative Music Studio's triple-disc Archive Selections Volume 1 & 2 (Planet Arts) documents sessions by Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Kalaparusha, Frederic Rzewski, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Don Cherry, Collin Walcott, Nana Vasconcelos, Gerry Hemingway, etc.

Konitz died in 2020 of covid-19.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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