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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Farewell Lee Konitz (1927 - 2020)

The sad news has broken that alto sax legend Lee Konitz died yesterday (April 15) - yet another victim of Covid.

Konitz first came to prominence with Miles Davis' innovative Birth of the Cool band before taking to the road with Stan Kenton, studying with Lennie Tristano and recording in many settings.
I first saw him at Newcastle City Hall in a 1958 package - Jazz From Carnegie Hall - that, apart from Lee, included Zoot Sims, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. Some years later, in 1975, he played alongside fellow Tristano-ite Warne Marsh at the Corner House in Whitley Bay. This was one of those iconic sessions that is still talked about today by those old enough to remember.

Another moment to remember was in 1978 at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, with the Bill Evans Trio.

The last time I saw Lee Konitz was at Pizza Express in May, 2010, where, after a hesitant start he finally got into his stride alongside Dan Tepfer (piano), Michael Janisch (bass) and Jeff Williams (drums).
Four different sessions, all memorable. But, that night in Whitley Bay...!

Lee Konitz was 92 - may he rest in peace. 
Lance.

Syncopated Times obituary.

3 comments :

Steve T said...

Quite amazing that he played on the Birth of the Cool Sessions from 1949.
I saw him twice in his later years.
The first time was at the London Jazz Festival where he was fluid, playing brilliantly and charismatic.
The second was at the Cheltenham Festival just eighteen months later and was very different. He managed to find a chair and spent most of the time sat on it, occasionally playing his horn but mostly singing and scatting. Co-leader Dave Douglas was amazing and clearly found it all hilarious, but bass player Linda Oh, set to embark on an international tour with them (and due to play the Sage round about now),looked terrified.
Anybody tempted to write a list of the top ten greatest living jazz artists may find it quite different from just a few weeks ago.

Peter Bevan said...

Lee also appeared twice at Darlington Arts Centre.
The first occasion was Saturday 21 October 1989 as part of the Fourth Darlington Jazz & Blues Festival. On that occasion he was backed by John Taylor, Mick Hutton and Steve Arguelles. His programme included Star Eyes, Here's That Rainy Day, Chick Came Around, Moonlight in Vermont, All the Things You Are, Days of Wine and Roses and a ballad medley.

The second was on Friday 29 January 1999 a part of Kenny Wheeler's Angel Song tour organised by the Arts Council's Contemporary Music Network. The band was completed by John Abercrombie (replacing Bill Frisell) and Dave Holland.

Russell said...

Peter- do you happen to know why Frisell didn't make the gig?

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