Sunday, July 27, 2014

Listening to Prestige Records project - Part 10: Lee Konitz

Lee Konitz took a quintet into the studio on June 28, 1949, and recorded four sides, but only two of them were ever released. Of the other two, only says Untitled...rejected.

The quintet was Konitz (alto saxophone), Warne Marsh (tenor saxophone), Sal Mosca (piano), Arnold Fishkin (bass), Denzil Best (drums). All but Best were members of Lennie Tristano's inner circle, and Best, who could and did play with artists of nearly every jazz genre, had recorded with Tristano.

Of Tristano's two horn players, Konitz is the one who made the more significant name for himself in jazz, and maybe there's a reason for that. I've had a Warne Marsh LP for a long time, and every now and then I used to take it out and try to listen to it, but I never made it all the way through. 

But he understood what Tristano was doing, and here, he understands what Konitz is doing. The pianist on the date is Sal Mosca, Tristano's most notable student and disciple, but he doesn't take the lead. This is Konitz's session, and he is very much the dominant figure, but Marsh supports him throughout. The opening chorus on "Marshmallow," a Marsh composition (those bebop-era composers did love their puns, didn't they?) is a heady, pretzel-like interplay between the two saxes that's breathtaking. Here it is on YouTube:

And you can find both tunes (the other is "Fishin' Around") on Spotify.

Prestige released the two cuts they accepted as a 78 RPM single, and they later became part of the labels very first 10-inch LP, Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz (PRLP 101), along with two more cuts recorded on September 27th with the same lineup, but with Jeff Morton replacing Denzil Best.

I recommend listening along with me on this journey through a particular slice of jazz. I can't begin to express how rewarding it's turning out to be. And I wouldn't at all mind seeing a few comments.

1 comment:

larry audette said...

...we're with you. man....