The Sound of Sunrise

COMPOSERS: Lee Konitz
LABELS: RCA Victor
ALBUM TITLE: Lee Konitz
PERFORMER: Lee Konitz (as), Ted Brown (ts), John Abercrombie (g), Marc Johnson (b), Joey Baron (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 69309 2

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Lee Konitz is one of the most important, yet least visible, living sax players in jazz. The reason for his (relative) obscurity may be his unheroic approach: unmistakable yet hard to imitate. Since his introduction by cool scholars Lennie Tristano and Claude Thornhill in the Forties, Konitz has tackled improvisation obtusely, even colourlessly.

His wispy, low-volume lines avoid obvious melodic destinations and, unlike his bebop counterparts, he refuses to take the listener’s ears by force.There are a couple of surprises on this latest outing.

First, Konitz has recorded entirely his own material for the first time. Second, he is joined by a rhythm section comprising downtown New York modernists. Not surprisingly, it all hangs together beautifully and the veteran Konitz (73 this year) is as hard to hum as ever, feinting and constantly interrupting the latest idea with a new one.

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Ted Brown, an obscure figure in jazz, blows appropriately attractive and understated shapes from the shadows. Guitarist John Abercrombie is happy outside conventional structures and the ebb and flow of Konitz’s sound suits him well. It falls to Baron and Johnson to provide definition, which they do with quiet flair. Garry Booth