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This review is from: Sax of a Kind (Audio CD)
A quite stunning collection on 4 CDs covering the period 1947 to 1955. For a very modest outlay you will get some 66 tracks running for just over 4 hours. Being Lee Konitz, who always had his favourites, there is some duplication of titles but said duplicates come from different sessions. The sound quality is first rate and the tracks appear in strict date order. There is a nice symmetry to the collection in that it starts and finshes with Konitz playing with Lennie Tristano. There are some errors and omissions which I will try to identify.
This is very much Tristano territory and he is on the first 15 tracks. The recording date for the first 4 is given as August 1947 but I am sure it should read 1949 in line with all the other tracks on this disc. Two tracks from the May 1949 session "Intuition" and Disgression" are probably the first examples of free improvisation. Some of the interplay between Konitz and Warne Marsh is magnificent. On tracks 16 to 18 Sal Mosca is the pianist and the uncredited bass player is Arnold Fishkin.
This kicks off with another track from 1949 with Fishkin again uncredited.
We then move forward 12 months to find Konitz with various small groups through tracks 2 to 5. Eleven months later Konitz is in the studio with a group that includes Miles Davis and Max Roach. Of particlur interest are the two tunes penned by George Russell, "Odjenar" and Ezz-Thetic" which, to say the least, are very advanced for the time. tracks 10 and 11 are delightful duos with Billy Bauer on guitar. The remaining 8 tracks are from the well known session with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Some of these were recorded live and all are gems.
The first three tracks are also from the Mulligan session so, according to my records, the only missing item from this get together is the alternate take of "Lady Be Good". Tracks 4 to 8 were recorded in Paris when Konitz was touring with the Stan Kenton orchestra. He is in the company of fellow Kentonites Don Bagley (b) and Stan Levey (dms), local man Henri Renaud (p) and guitarist Jimmy Gourley who, I am pretty sure, was living in Paris at that time. This session has appeared many times but one track, "These Foolish Things" seems to have been faded out. The final 5 tracks (9 to 13) come from a live recording in Boston with Ronnie Ball (pno) Percy heath (b) and Alan Levitt (dms). I had not heard these before but realised that Ball was the perfect partner during this stage of Konitz's career.
Opens up with two more tracks from the Boston session and then goes into eight tracks (3 to 10) from one of my personal favourites namely the session of August 1954 in New York. Here Konitz is with a near perfect group of Ball, Peter Ind (b) and Jeff Morton (dms). I have always loved the simple but effective "Bop Goes The Leesel" and "Nursery Rhyme". If this session catches your fancy keep a look out for the Black Lion CD "Lee Konitz - Konitz" BLCD 760922 as it contains 6 alternate takes.
The collection comes to an apt ending with 6 tracks from the June 1955 live session with Tristano, Gene Ramey (b) and Arthur Taylor (dms). There were times during this session when Tristano reminded me of some of Dave Brubeck's work of a couple of earlier years. Is this possible or should I get out more?
I have given this release the maximum 5 stars. It deserves 10.