Apr 16, 2020
We've lost another giant.
Lee Konitz, the alto sax player whose career spanned from bebop in the clubs of Broadway to the present has passed away from COVID-19 related issues. he was 92.
One of the players introduced to me by my father, Konitz found a way to do it all during his 70 odd years in jazz. He helped invent improvisational jazz with Lenny Tristano and Wayne Marsh. He pioneered "Cool Jazz" with Miles Davis on The Birth of the Cool and in sessions with Gerry Mulligan. There seemed to be no one he would not take a gig or session with, and turn them inside out playing ballads and uptempo swingers alike. Whether the collaborator was Ornette Coleman or Dave Bruneck, Stan Kenton or Charles Mingus, the results were always memorable
Blessed with a wry sense of humor (he loved to title compositions with his name in them, as in "Subconscious Lee") and an intense work ethic, Konitz's legacy included an NEA Jazz Master designation. I had the pleasure of catching a duet session with his long-time pianist Dan Tepfer at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston back in 2015, preceded by a conversation with Tim Hagens on his career in music. Lee was warm, funny and man, could he play. A most wonderful afternoon.
Podcast 741 is an hour plus of the music of Lee Konitz, as a band leader and collaborator, These are not necessarily his greatest performances, but rather those that mean something to me, while covering seventy years of legendary music. Musical selections include:
Lee Konitz - "Five, Four and Three"
Lee Konitz - "Subconscious Lee"
Miles Davis - "Godchild (Live at the Royal Roost)"
Lee Konitz & Wayne Marsh -"Lennie Bird"
Lee Konitz /Bill Frisell /Gary Peacock /Joey Baron; - "Stella by Starlight"
Dave Pile - "The Doors of Perception"
Lee Konitz & the Gerry Mulligan Quartet - "Broadway"
Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier & Jorge Rossy - "Blueberry Ice Cream Take 2"
Lennie Tristano - "Intuition"
Lee Konitz - "Lover Man"
Lee Konitz - "Blues for Bird"
Lee Konitz & Dan Tepfer - "Body and Soul"