Current Lee

The flurry of comments, reminiscences and stories stimulated by the Konitz And Kenton post in the previous exhibit leads me to suspect that there may be considerable interest in Konitz’s current work. Jim Brown’s comment about that item described the effect on him of Konitz’s new quartet with a rhythm section of young European musicians who, in Jim’s words, spur Konitz to “new heights of creativity.”

Since the Rifftides staff is on the eve of a vacation of at least several days and blogging will be infrequent, if at all, we’re going to leave you with an hour-long video of Konitz and a band of colleagues who are decades younger—chronologically. He turned 85 on October 13. The pianist is Florian Weber, the bassist Jeff Denson, the drummer Ziv Ravitz. Someone who identifies himself as doriangrey27 uploaded the video to YouTube. He (or, who knows? she) has our gratitude.

The concert was at the Internationale Jazzwoche in Burghausen, Wackerhalle, Germany, on March 15th of this year. Konitz has played the pieces in this program for years, always managing to find in them ways to surprise his audiences and himself. At the beginning, we are treated to his style as MC and raconteur.

doriangrey 27’s YouTube channel has several hundred interesting concert videos.

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  1. says

    Lee Konitz’s latest release on Half Note, Enfant Terribles, features Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock, and Joey Baron, and it’s gotten more reaction from listeners than anything else I’ve featured this month. There’s nothing new about the repertoire, but it sounds as fresh as ever in these richly creative, organic explorations of “Body and Soul,” “I Remember You,” etc.

    The earlier posts on Bird and Lee with Stan Kenton reminded me of a call I got when I was doing a radio show in Worcester, MA around 1978 and wondered aloud if Bird had ever played there. I knew he’d played Boston many times, and had gone out to Milford to sit in with Boots Mussulli, but I’d yet to hear of any dates he’d played in my hometown. Then I promptly got a call from a listener telling me about his appearance at the Memorial Auditorium with Kenton. I wonder if the caller was Rifftides reader Jon Foley?

    When I interviewed Lee a few years ago, he proudly recalled the appreciation Bird expressed to him about his playing. In an interview conducted a year before the 1954 tour, Bird was played the Kenton recording of “My Lady” and said, “That was Lee Konitz. Some very fine alto work on that record, too.”

    • Jon Foley says

      Tom –
      No, that wasn’t me calling you – although if I were still living in Worcester in 1978, I certainly would have. I had moved to New Bedford in 1971.

      Somewhere online (and I should have bookmarked it because I can’t find it now) I once saw an itinerary of Bird’s gigs, and it not only listed the Kenton concert in Worcester on February 9, 1954, it also said that Bird played at a jam session in Worcester that same day at someplace like a VFW or American Legion club. I find that very hard to believe for too many reasons to list here, plus I never heard anything about it at the time or since from any of the people on the Worcester jazz scene that I knew. Parker playing at a session in Worcester? Everyone would have known about it! (Plus, it’s not listed in the authoritative book, “Bird’s Diary” by Ken Vail).

      I got a chance to meet Lee Konitz when he played a gig in Providence, RI, in March, 1992, and got to spend about 10 minutes talking with him afterward. I should have asked him about that Kenton/Parker/Gillespie tour, but I didn’t want to take up all his time, since there were others waiting for him. Maybe someday…………..

      • says

        The older players who discussed jazz with me in my youth often spoke of Bird sitting in with Boots in Milford. Given Mussulli’s tenures with Kenton, it may have taken place on the night of the Worcester concert. Is there anything in Vail about Bird playing in Milford, at either a VFW, or the Crystal Room?