Passings: LEE KONITZ by Dave Liebman
追悼 リー・コニッツ by デイヴ・リーブマン

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text by Dave Liebman
photo: courtesy of  Jean-Jacque Pussiau

Lee Konitz’s career was the definition of individualism in jazz. Like Monk, like Lee’s long-time cohort Warne Marsh and of course “Professor” Lenny Tristano, being immersed in a style of music which begs for individualism, Lee struck gold. Can you imagine being in the same room hearing and watching Bird, while developing a completely different way of playing….in front of the master? Lee did it in spades.

Lee’s assets were remarkable: a truly tremendous ear; a conviction that everything was at the service of melody including harmony; a behind the pulse eight note rhythmic feel; all presented with a flexible and at times entrancing sound on the alto. Lee represented freedom, having what it takes musically and socially to be your own man. Yes, you can play what you want in jazz (theoretically that is), but you have to believe in yourself, practicing what you preach from a position of strength and confidence.

As a person, Lee was a real character. He could be abrasive and outspoken at times, yet very astute in his opinions that by the way comprise his interview book (which inspired me to do my auto bio book in a similar format). Lee was for sure not shy to express his views, even about himself regarding playing fast tempos, questions about intonation, etc. Bottom line was Lee could be brutally honest. But he had a sly sense of humor and was not shy when he communicated with the audience.

Lee would invariably show up at NY clubs checking out the scene. He was one of the few masters that taught a lot of students over the years,
(including my wife, Caris). He never said anything about the music he had just heard…so you couldn’t really tell what he felt (which in retrospect was probably the safest way to tread around him). But in the end he was truly humble with great knowledge about Lester Young and other notable pre be-bop players.

For most of his life Lee played with whomever and wherever, with famous guys and new talent. He would call the same war horse tunes that amazingly were always different no matter how many times you heard “All The Things,” “What Is This Thing” etc. He played with big bands, duos and all kinds of ensembles always being himself no matter the background or style. His recording with Elvin Jones and bassist Sonny Dallas titled “Motion” is a classic for time and changes improvising in a trio setting. Surprisingly and unique compared to most of his peers (McLean, McPherson, Woods, Cannonball) Lee loved to play free. He was so musical and melodic that he made even that idiom sound lyrical. Lee was totally respected but existed on a less than famous level of popularity, maybe even taken for granted…but that is another story.

Finally, there’s a track from a trio recording I did with Lee and Richie Beirach a few years ago….”Knowingly.” Out of nowhere Lee pulled out a soprano and played one of the most amazingly beautiful, improvised duos I have ever heard with Richie…..very deep and intimate.

One of the all-time greats, may you rest in peace.

リー・コニッツのキャリアは、ジャズにおける個人主義の定義そのものであった。モンク、リーの長年の同志ウォーン・マーシュ、もちろん“プロフェッサー”レニー・トリスターノも同様だったが、個人主義に立つ音楽スイタルを貫いてリーは成功したのだ。バードの演奏を耳にしながら、その姿を目撃しながら同じ部屋で、しかもマスターの目の前でまったく別のやり方で演奏を組み立てていくなどということを想像できようか? それを実際にやったのがリーなのだ。








『Lee Konitz|Dave Liebman|Richie Beirach /Knowinglee』

Outhere OTN006 2011

Lee Konitz (alto- & soprano-sax)
Dave Liebman (soprano-& tenor-sax)
Richie Beirach (piano)

1. In Your Own Sweet Way (Dave Brubeck)
2. Don’t Tell Me What Key (Konitz/Liebman/Beirach)
3. Universal Lament (Konitz/Beirach)
4. Alone TogetherWritten (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz)
5. Knowinglee (Liebman/Beirach)
6. Solar (Miles Davis)
7.  Migration (Konitz/Liebman)
8. Thingin’ / All The Things That …
9. Trinity (Konitz/LIebman/Beirach)
10. Body And Soul (Johnny Green)
11. Hi Beck (Konitz)
12. What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter)
Produced by Kurt Renkar
Executive producer: Jean-Jacques Pussiau

Dave Liebman デイヴ・リーブマン
ジョン・コルトレーンの生演奏を聴いてジャズに目覚め、レニー・トリスターノやチャールス・ロイドに教えを乞う。NY大学を卒業後、プロを目指す。エルヴィン・ジョーンズのグループを経て、1970-74年、マイルス・デイヴィスのグループに在団、バンマスとして活躍。退団後、Lookout Farm、David Liebman Quintet、Questを通じて活躍。2010年、NEAジャズ・マスターズに認定される。