21 February 2010

Lee Konitz Nonet - Live in Middleheim '79

"It was a tragedy that Lee Konitz's versatile nonet was not
able to
succeed commercially. Just like its leader, the group
was able to
stretch from swing standards, bop and cool jazz
to freer
improvisations and challenging originals."
Great songbook, great arrangements (most written by Sy
Johnson), great interplay among the nine players, the nonet
remains (in my opinion), one of the peaks in Lee's career.

Rec. live in Middleheim, Belgium, prob. August, 1979
(mics recording)

Lee Konitz,alto & soprano saxophones
Ronnie Cuber,baritone & soprano saxophones
Red Rodney,trumpet
John Eckert,trumpet,flugelhorn
Jimmy Knepper,trombone
Sam Burtis,bass trombone,tuba
Ben Aranov,piano
Ray Drummond,bass
Billy Hart,drums

01. Milestones [M.Davis] (10:31)
02. Footprints [W.Shorter] (08:14)
03. If You Could See Me Now [T.Dameron/C.Sigman] (07:38)
04. Chi Chi [C.Parker] (09:56)
05. Time's Lie [C.Corea] (13:54)
06. April [L.Tristano] (08:42)
07. Stardust [H.Carmichael] (06:40)
08. You Stepped Out Of A Dream [N.H.Brown/G.Kahn] (10:13)
09. Who You [J.Knepper] (12:08)
10. Without A Song [E.Eliscu/B.Rose/V.Youmans] (10:15)
11. Giant Steps [J.Coltrane] (10:41)
12. Matrix [C.Corea] (13:57)

Total Time 2:02:54


riccardo said...

mp3 (279 MB) :



flac (843 MB) :









Kndnsk said...

Thank you! Yes, shame about the lack of success of this nonet.

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, the sound quality is mediocre, so is the music. Konitz remains one of the most over-rated musicians. Remove him from the company of Mulligan, Tristano and Marsh and you have one non-entity who, were he a writer, would be accused of gibberish. Thanx anyway. Pity Rodney and Knepper are wasted among such zombies.

Kndnsk said...

Talk about gibberish...One of the greatest jazz improvisers of all time, he is, Mr. Anonymous.

riccardo said...

Don't worry Kndnsk,
tastes differ...

Kndnsk said...

Oh I'm not worried. But it's not just a matter of taste. Else it would just be a poor excuse to write libelous nonsense. Wouldn't you react to someone calling the music of Charlie Parker "gibberish"? Konitz is about this important; though personal taste might mean you have no affinity for his music, and that's perfectly fine, there is little doubt that his music is of the highest order.

Anonymous said...

Lee Konitz is a Jedi among musicians.

MrBill said...

While I wouldn't put Konitz in the same league as Charlie Parker, the fact remains that he's a major figure. That he's contributed at a high level over many years is worthy of respect in and of itself, in contrast to many musicians who have played brilliantly for few years but then burned out. That he put together this band, filled with so many wonderful players, is further evidence of his excellence over the long term. Thanks for posting this!

sasha said...

I always wanted to check out the nonet so many thanks for this post..As regards the debate I actually think the tristano-link to be a little out because by this stage Lee had moved a long way from his earlier influences..Unlike say Warne who remained very much within that tradition throughout..I find Konitz to be a very provocative thinker about improvised music..Always worth checking out..On the other hand his advocates often do go totally over-board (in my expierence of them) in praising him to the skies..And often to the detriment of other lesser known but equally worthy players (lets say Bunky Green for example)..And so others respond by wanting to bring this statue down to the ground! Ah taste!! Its a divisive thing..

tim buckley said...

@Kndnsk actually it IS just a matter of taste. An artist whose work you love whether it's Konitz, Parker, or Johnny Rotten doesn't need to be protected from those who don't understand what they do. There's no one who everybody likes, telling someone that they "should" appreciate artistry that they don't doesn't get very far and that's just the way of the world.

By complaining so strongly about Konitz's playing in the context of a band where you'd hear Konitz less often than most projects he's been involved is a sure sign that Anonymous just looking to pull someone's chain. If you'd ignored his trolling, you would have deprived him of whatever screwed satisfaction he got, and you didn't change anyone's mind about Konitz.

Kndnsk said...

Well, thank you, tim buckley! You're probably right, I shouldn't have reacted. But then, I didn't think of his assertion as trolling. Of course I won't change anybody's mind about Konitz. But I guess I'm entitled to my opinion, as anonymous is (I wish he actually used some moniker or other). I beg to differ with tim and sasha : Konitz is a major improvisor, one of the very few who actually seems to improvise all the time, resorting to licks and clichés as little as possible. It's true that at this point he had veered away from the Tristano idiom. Over his long career, he kept evolving all the time, another testimony to the uniqueness of this improvisor : think about how most improvisor don't change their style much once they have matured.

Anonymous said...

I have come to this a bit late but have to say I agree with Anonymous. I believe Konitz is a major non-entity who lost his way decades ago. His self-imdulgent waffle is a piss-poor excuse for improvisation. Those who consider him to be a major force have been brainwashed. The truly great improvisers, Parker, Rollins, Dolphy, to name but three, were/are Aristotlian in that their solos had/have a beginnng, middle and ending in that order. Konitz is nowhere near being in the same league. In fact, he reminds me of that loquacious wanker Wynton Marsalis inasmuch as neither can play their way out of a paper bag.
Stoned in Bangkok

Kndnsk said...

Thank you anonymous (you're the same anonymous chap as the guy you're agreeing with, aren't you?). You just proved that you do not need to be taken seriously, so tim buckley was right, I should probably have not reacted to your banter, but I still want to thank you, because it lead to some ballanced debating with tim, sasha, Mr. Bill, and riccardo. Re: the aristotelian quality you're referring to, Konitz's solo exhibit great cohesian, whether you can hear it or not. Funny that you should be capable of hearing it in Eric Dolphy's playing but not in Konitz's...

Kndnsk said...

@sasha: Bunky Green is a really nice alto saxophonist, he really knows his instrument. However, he is clearly typical of the classic Charlie Parker / Sonny Stitt alto school. I don't believe he's nearly as original and important as Lee Konitz. Toward the end of the forties, Lee Konitz emerged as as a minor figure, compared to Charlie Parker, but one that was truly distinctive. I rest my case.

Jazzrealities said...

Great that this wonderful concert is made availabe. Seems that originally it came from my tape. Done with poor equipment but with Lee's allowance. I don't care about royalties... Instead keep on going to Lee's concert, make a tape and send me a copy...
(being the Lee Konitz discography writer No.1)

Anonymous said...

i agree knddnsk, and i add:
if we are talking about jazz, about a language of improvisation, about ideas, solo construction, use of intervals, the ability to go deep into the armony or just follow an inner melody, the ability of composing significant tunes, then it is NOT a matter of taste that lee konitz is among the - how many? 20? - important people that have done the history of jazz. listen to, f.i., him play "ezzthetics" in the contemplation album (prestige) with davis, mulligan and others.
his ability to construct orizontal lines was (and still is in a different way) totally unique, as his fellow warne marsh's. he wrote "subconscious lee" in 1949, that tune has a very innovative way of line construction and use of tempo. in 1949, when everybody was playing like charlie parker, konitz was able to built his very own style, an alternative to parker, and his compositions (as tristano's) were in a certain way more modern then most of bebop standards: expecially the use of intervals, tempo, polyrhythmic approach.
I understand that it might not be so easy to get the magic of those players, (konitz, marsh and tristano in particular), you have to listen carefully and possibly play some of their tunes or try to imitate some solo phrases. I used to think that konitz, marsh and others of this kind, were overrated, until at the conservatory i met a saxophonist (my teacher) who was deep into that style, and showed us amazing details in konitz's music and phrasing.
not to mention the amazing influence konitz has had in contemporary saxophonists, such as mark turner, chris speed, tim berne, anthony braxton, pietro tonolo, julius hemphill to name the first that come up to my mind.
sorry if i wrote too much, with my bad english :-) but konitz as i said, is untouchable, and it is not my opinion: it is just a fact that he is one of the most important, most unique, most influent, jazz saxophonists ever.
and, by the way, I find it strange that people in forums like this, feel as if they can judge musicians that 50 or so years ago (not yesterday, i mean, there must have been time to think about it, or not?) wrote the history of jazz. I had this same thing in another site with ornette coleman, there was this guy who was say that ornette couldn't play. he said so, now in 2010. i mean, we are not in the 60's: now, how on earth can you say that ornette or konitz are overrated? it is a little presumptuous. :-)
anyways, thanks a lot for all this...
best, beppe

Kndnsk said...

Cheers beppe!
Yeah, taste, right: Charlie Parker or Johnny Rotten, Barbara Streisand or Igor Stravinsky, all in the same bag!
You've got every right to like or dislike anything, that it is indeed a matter of taste (and other things...). That's not to say that it's all equally worthy, I.M.H.O.

Jason said...


I've come to this thread late. It's really interesting how people react to Konitz. I've recently gotten into a kick of listening to him because I'm reading the book "Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art" by Andy Hamilton. I find his playing to be really exciting and fulfilling. It took me a while to get a sense for his playing. I think what makes it so exciting for me is the unexpected turns of phrase and rhythmic placement of his lines. I like how he'll wind through a melody and end up on a surprising note. It's just so fun to follow his lines and get caught up in the rhythms, very much akin to the pleasures of a Dolphy solo.

One other thing that I relate to a lot is how he talks about wanting to improvise freshly, without having a pre-planned path laid out. In taking guitar solos in my band, I am growing more and more aware that the most musical fulfillment comes about when I spontaneously come upon a melodic or rhythmic idea. I end up trying to repeat that idea on subsequent performances, and it's hard to get the same feeling and satisfaction out of it. I'm learning that I have to be willing to start from scratch each performance and have faith that something good will come out if it. It's a scary thing to do in front of an audience. This is the kind of stuff that Lee talks about in the book, and it's very inspiring.

So thanks for this nonet recording. The sound quality is a little muffled, but the music comes through and it sounds great.

JC said...

Thanks. A very interesting lineup but one that does not put LK out front that much.

duck said...

thanks again, this is great music

George Lane said...

Thanks a lot! Really looking forward to hearing this.

francisco santos said...

re post, please ...
Big THX !....

Anonymous said...

Re-post please! Thank you for this blog!

francisco santos said...

ask again, can some one re post...