Monday, July 26, 2010

Lee Konitz: Live At The Village Vanguard

Lee Konitz & Minsarah (sax; b. 1937)
Live At The Village Vanguard (Enja Records)
Jeff Denson (bass)
Florian Weber (piano)
Ziv Ravitz (drums)

Lee Konitz has been one of the most prolific saxophonists of the last two decades. He has performed with fellow luminaries as Miles Davis (on the legendary Birth Of The Cool album), Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre, Lenny Tristano and widely known for his partnership with fellow sax great, Wayne Marsh. He has also worked a wide range of new jazz greats such as Brad Mehldau and Mark Turner. The Chicago native was originally influenced by Benny Goodman (clarinet) before turning his sights on playing saxophone.

Lee Konitz is one those few musicians who can play flawlessly in any setting (ensemble, orchestra, small group, solo). His style has always been describe by the often overused moniker " the Cool" referring to the smooth style that Miles Davis is associated with on the aforementioned album. But Konitz was more than that. He can play it "Cool" but he can also distribute blistering attacks on the horn is very subtle ways. His ability to improvise The essential Konitz album is Motion (Verve; 1961) with Elvin Jones and Sonny Dallas. Motion is a killer set of originals and improvising mastery.

More recently his has recorded with some new up and coming European artists such as guitarist, Jakob Bro and Konitz's new quartet consisting of the trio Minsarah.

Konitz recorded a 2008 debut with Minsarah entitled Deep-Lee (Enja) which is a truly sublime and another must. The quartets most recent set is Live At The Village Vanguard (Enja) as it also doesn't disappoint. In Minsarah, Konitz has found a European trio and complements and integrate smoothly with his ability shifting tempos. Live At The Village Vanguard is definitely a group is prime form. Konitz allows the group to really stretch out on Johnny Mercer standard "I Remember You" which Denson and Weber are smokin' to high appreciation of the audience.

Lee show is subtle bebop touch on the self-penned "Subconscious-Lee" with expert interplay from he rhythm section. Konitz again allows the group free reign on Florian Weber's piece "Color" which is a mid-tempo number that builds to joyous conclusion. Konitz rejoins the groups on "Kary's Trance" an original which builds slowly into some fierce phrasing from Konitz and Weber that really tells you this group gets along so well.

Live At The Village Vanguard is definitely a new chapter for Konitz. I personally hope this quartet stays together for awhile because I think they can reach some new heights and really stamp a significant mark on today's scene. Highly Recommended.

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