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Album Review

From time to time throughout his career, altoist Lee Konitz puts together a nonet to perform his music. The 2005 Lee Konitz Nonet is a bit unusual in that it includes bass clarinet (two different players split the duties) and cello in the group. Ohad Talmor's arrangements of Konitz's originals (plus his own "Warmer in Heaven") are colorful, haunting and full of subtle surprises. While most of the other musicians (other than Ben Monder, Matt Wilson and perhaps Bob Bowen) are not too well known, they fulfill their parts well and are obviously world-class players. Konitz is well featured on his six-part "Chromaticlee Suite" (which is performed as a continuous work) and five other selections. The music is mostly pretty advanced and a bit dry. Although none of the individual selections are all that memorable, Konitz's constantly inventive improvising (still remarkable for one who came to prominence back in the late '40s) and the spirit of the nonet make this a set well worth picking up.


Born: 13 October 1927 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most individual of all altoists (and one of the few in the 1950s who did not sound like a cousin of Charlie Parker), the cool-toned Lee Konitz has always had a strong musical curiosity that has led him to consistently take chances and stretch himself, usually quite successfully. Early on he studied clarinet, switched to alto, and played with Jerry Wald. Konitz gained some attention for his solos with Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra (1947). He began studying with Lennie Tristano, who had...
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