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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxed, Mellow, Live Jazz
Sporting a sombre cover image, tonally at odds with the actual album, Live at Birdland by Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, is bright melodic music, occasionally bursting into free jazz style solos. A live date of five tracks recorded in late 2009, this record is engaging and pleasant at first listen with a depth that rewards greater...
Published on 17 Oct 2012 by testedonpencils

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Improv disappointment
I dont really enjoy listening to this as it just dithers and tishes about, the players sound like they are playing slowly, and there's only one tune on the album. Perhaps if you like free jazz or improv more than I do you will disagree that the contents are a disappointment, but they were to this longtime fan of both Lee Konitz and Brad Mehldau. I've seen them both live,...
Published 18 months ago by Mr. W. G. Simpson


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxed, Mellow, Live Jazz, 17 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
Sporting a sombre cover image, tonally at odds with the actual album, Live at Birdland by Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, is bright melodic music, occasionally bursting into free jazz style solos. A live date of five tracks recorded in late 2009, this record is engaging and pleasant at first listen with a depth that rewards greater attention.

All five of the songs are old standards, running to about ten to twelve minutes each, except for Oleo which lasts for fifteen. The playing sounds fresh and measured, and the recording itself is excellent with all the instruments sounding rich and well balanced. The audience occasionally shows enthusiastic appreciation but this never intrudes.

The album starts on a high with a richly melodic version of Lover Man, with drums and bass adding subtle rhythmic interest beneath the gentle interlocking melodies of the piano and saxophone. This technique of two instruments paring up to establish a melody while the others fall back and give them space to explore becomes something of a theme on the album. Piano and sax, piano and bass, and sax and drums, take turns establishing rich melodies together before breaking into more adventurous solo sections. Another highlight is the excellent version of I Fall in Love Too Easily, in which Haden takes a beautiful solo, playing soft melodies accompanied by gentle piano accents. The song ends with Konitz's sax floating hauntingly above arpeggiated piano parts.

This album is measured in its pace but it never drags, and fast intricate passages contrast the slower melodic sections. Though it expresses many different moods, it's overall feel is one of relaxed happiness, which is a good thing in a live jazz album.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 12 Jun 2011
By 
david c "david c" (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
There are moments of very great beauty on this recording. Yes , Konitz playing is occasionally fragile (but I don't detect the intonation problem commented on by another reviewer) but he displays sublime taste and simplicity akin to Miles at his best. All the selections work superbly, with perhaps the exception of Oleo which is a tad too deconstructed for my taste. Haden and Motain are their usual distinctively great selves. I expected ear-catching solos from Mehldau and he delivers them consistently, but for me the revelation of his playing on this is his comping,especially behind Konitz.It's sublime. They interact fantastically, feeding off each other as if they'd been playing together for years.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TRUE GIANTS OF JAZZ SHINE THROUGH, 18 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
It is often said that"Age shall not weary them"well,with a combined age of 279 years,well,this quartet are on fine form in this live recording.
Meldhau,as witnessed in his recent live album is a naturally gifted pianist and possitevly excells on this album,Hadens playing is as extraordinary,weaving in and out of complicated time signatures,Motian is as reliable as ever,and for me Konitz is the star of the show ,with beautifully contrlled runs on the saxophone,
A whole range of styles are played on this album.
The recording and production is superb as is the packaging.
Lee Konitz.....Alto Saxophone
Paul Motian.....Drums
Brad mehldau......Piano
Charlie Haden.....Double bass
71.19
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1.0 out of 5 stars Improv disappointment, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. W. G. Simpson "William" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
I dont really enjoy listening to this as it just dithers and tishes about, the players sound like they are playing slowly, and there's only one tune on the album. Perhaps if you like free jazz or improv more than I do you will disagree that the contents are a disappointment, but they were to this longtime fan of both Lee Konitz and Brad Mehldau. I've seen them both live, separately, and they can be thrillingly fast and melodic players. I would certainly recommend Alone Together by Mehldau, Konitz and Charlie Haden on Blue Note, and its sister album, both recorded at the Jazz Bakery. The difference there is that they ruminate around standards and sound at ease in each others company, and in front of what sounds like a dinner audience it has a warmth about it that this lacks.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than "ok", but a qualified "like", 5 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
Like the two customer reviews to date, the response to Live At Birdland from the critics has veered from the ecstatic to the deeply underwhelmed. Konitz's style (once described abstract and bloodless) will underwhelm some people but it does have a charm, intelligence and depth, and is supported sympathetically by Mehldau, Haden and Motian. Having listened to this disc perhaps 15 times my conclusion is that overall this is a good but not great recording from four fantastic musicians which, at its highest, as on the opener "Lover Man" is sublime but, elsewhere, loses momentum over what are a long 70 minutes.

I was most excited by the prospect of the interpretation of Miles Davis's "Solar" (originally on the Quintet's 1954 release "Walkin") and Sonny Rollins's Oleo (famously covered by Davis and Coltrane in 1956) but, despite some snap and crackle by Motian in particular, neither interpretation is entirely successful neither having the force or impact of, say, Coltrane's late period assaults on "My Favorite Things" or the melodic flow and rhythmic bounce of the originals. There has not been as much publicity and hyperbole accompanying an ECM since Haden and Jarrett's collaboration "Jasmine" released last year and I, for one, as slightly disappointed by the attention spent on jazz standards as if, by implication, the new music released on ECM, for all its interest, is somehow inferior. Indeed, those desperate to make an early claim for album of the year are best advised to look elsewhere (I suggest the Marcin Wasilewski Trio's "Faithful") but for intelligent, unobvious versions of some of the jazz canon's most famous material, "Live At Birdland" is a worthy tribute to that canon and the jazz firmament's penchant for endless evolution.
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13 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's a big disappointment, 14 May 2011
This review is from: Live At Birdland (MP3 Download)
I am a big jazz fan and with the artists reputation it should be a better product, it's a sad thing to say but listening this performance, I can not help feel he is over the hill. The intonation is all over the place, not in a pleasant way like those quirky intentional chords of Monk, on suspect pianos, but in this case it really does sound he is struggling. It's a big disappointment.
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3 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy unless you are a hard core free jazz addict, 21 Jun 2011
This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
I suggest you buy this product only if you're a big free jazz snob. If you don't like incoherent and meaningless sounds, simply avoid this at all costs.
How can you not be upset at the errors the past generations have left to the younger ones to contemplate?
This is no exception. What do you think students will get out of this thing?
Also, I thought I'd give Mehldau another chance. What a disappointment. Again.
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Live At Birdland
Live At Birdland by Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden & Paul Motian Lee Konitz
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