Seeking consideration, albums arrive by the dozens. The reviewer must decide which ones will get his attention. Wearing a blindfold and searching randomly through the burgeoning stacks of incoming CDs (and occasional LPs), is not productive. So, we fall back on name recognition, listening experience and trust, hoping to do justice to a few of the hordes of discs that the post office, FedEx, DHL and UPS deliver in ceaseless profusion.
So…onward. Over the next few days, we shall consider a few recent arrivals, beginning with Lee Konitz’s Old Songs New. The alto saxophonist recently observed his 92nd birthday. He has long found that the nine-piece-ensemble format stimulates his creativity. Over the years, he has made several nonet albums. In this instance, much of the stimulation comes from the arranger Ohad Talmor, a Swiss-born protégé of the classical pianist Martha Argerich who has long been active in New York’s jazz scene. Konitz and Talmor have been associates for 20 years. Written by Talmor and featuring a string quartet, the arrangements complement the subtleties of Konitz’s improvisations. The ensemble includes a string quartet, superb flute work by Caroline Davis, Dennis Lee’s bass clarinet and subtle percussion touches by drummer George Schuller. Talmor’s charts live up to the claim of the album title. They bring vibrant harmonic substance to standard songs, among them “Goodbye,” “I Cover The Waterfront” and “Foolin’ Myself,” and to the venerable Konitz invention called “Kary’s Trance.”
This video teaser for the album appeared on Talmor’s website
The new Konitz album is to be released on November 22. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a performance of “Kary’s Trance” from the 1994 Leverkusen Jazz Festival in northern Germany. The late guitarist Attila Zoller and vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid join Konitz.