the Music Of Lee Konitz Sound-Lee!
The Dutch piano trio led by Guss Jenssen adds alto saxophonist and countryman
Jorrit Dijkstra for this tribute to Lee Konitz. Actually, to be precise,
this is a tribute to the music of Lee Konitz. Not the Lee Konitz of this
century, with his polished elder statesman tone, nor the cool leanings
of his collaborations with Miles Davis and Gil Evans. This live recording
from 2001 is both a backwards look to Konitz's collaboration with pianist
Lennie Tristano and a forward prediction of what might happen if Lennie
were still around for a reunion gig.
Tristano's craftsmanship (while Konitz was a disciple) was a perfect foil
to the openly emotional bop revolution that was occurring in the 1940s
and '50s. Jenssen and Dijkstra make this their jumping off point. They
turn five Konitz, one Tristano, and one Dijkstra composition into a "back
to the future" 21st-century jazz quartet sitting in on a 1950's jazz
'Progression' opens the disc with a mid-tempo junket allowing room to
stretch out sax, drum and piano solos. Jenssen incorporates two-handed
rhythms and speed into an impressive statement. The follow-the-leader
by way the odd note of 'Hi Beck' is a perfect jumping off point for Dijkstra
to both align himself with Konitz and touch on Desmond and Dolphy.
Janssen's piano, well-informed by Tristano, doesn't ignore the innovations
of Thelonious Monk and Elmo Hope, while touching on Teddy Wilson and Art
Tatum. Stride is played alongside the coolness these tunes were written
for, almost as if Janssen thought 'play early Cecil Taylor' while setting
up for this gig.
Both 'Palo Alto' and 'Ablution' display a breakneck bebop style without
stepping into the realm of hard bop. They preserve the politeness of Konitz
and Charlie Parker with speed instead of harshness. Dijkstra is an experienced
avant gardist, evidenced on the recent solo recording 30 Micro- Stems
(BVHaast) and Humming, with the Canadian band Talking Pictures (Songlines).
musical efforts have displayed a fertile imagination and a strong sense
of the music of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn. This outing has Dijkstra
walking the same free path, but beginning with Lee Konitz circa 1950.
The cool tone of 'Kary's Trance' is also not without its quick-witted
intricacies. Dijkstra weaves a bit of Ornette through the Konitz original,
tempting an outward path as Konitz was know to do.
with two- handed elegance a la John Lewis before himself venturing a bit
out. It seems to be more enjoyable for out cats to play in straighter
settings these days; their control adds to the excitement. The quartet
proves the truly hip music of Konitz & Tristano played today loses
none of its downtown swank, even in translation.
reviews about Sound Lee!