7 Songs, 46 Minutes


About Lee Konitz Quartet

b. 13 October 1927, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Konitz began on clarinet, studying in the classical form, later switching to alto saxophone. In the mid-late 40s he played in the bands of Jerry Wald and Claude Thornhill, appeared on jazz dates with Miles Davis and was simultaneously studying with Lennie Tristano, with whom he also recorded. In the early 50s he worked for a while with Stan Kenton and although he left the band before the end of 1953, he had established his name and an international reputation. From the mid-50s onwards Konitz generally led his own bands, recording and playing publicly, and made a brief return visit to work with Tristano. He also became involved in teaching. During the following years Konitz’s interest in teaching developed and soon he was running clinics and workshops, giving private tuition and also conducting worldwide correspondence courses. In the mid-70s Konitz recorded several albums with Warne Marsh, all finding immediate critical and commercial popularity. He also formed a nine-piece band modelled upon the one led by Davis in which he had played 30 years earlier.

One of very few alto saxophonists of his generation not to have been influenced by Charlie Parker, Konitz managed to avoid being cast in any mould other than that which he created himself. Unlike many of his peers, he has proved to be flexible and capable of continually growing to accommodate new concepts. In performance his sound has changed over the years. Originally he played with a deliberately thin sound but he thickened this during his time with Kenton, a necessity to avoid being drowned by the volume of the band. (‘It was not easy playing alto in that band. Next time around, I’d rather be the drummer.’) Deeply interested in and committed to jazz education, Konitz encourages his students to respect their material and through his courses strives to teach solo improvisation, something he regards as being just as much a measurable discipline as ensemble playing. His own playing remains exemplary of that strain of contemporary music which emphasizes thoughtfulness rather than instinctive responses. In 2002, he won the DownBeat critics award for alto saxophonist of the year.

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