Lee Konitz died today in a New York City hospital. He was 92. Known primarily for the individualism of his alto saxophone work, Konitz in his later years also played soprano saxophone. Using aspects of phrasing, rhythm and tonal quality adapted from the great tenor saxophonist Lester Young, Konitz in the 1940s developed into one of the most distinctive soloists in jazz. His mid-forties recordings with pianist and composer Lennie Tristano influenced dozens of musicians who wanted to develop apart from the pervasive bebop influence of another giant alto saxophonist, Charlie Parker. Among them was Paul Desmond, who himself became one of the music’s great individualists. Here is Konitz with Tristano and tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh in one of their most celebrated recordings.
Lee Konitz, RIP