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March 2002

Lee Konitz
Parallels
Chesky Records

At age 74 Lee Konitz remains one of the most original and engaging improvisers in jazz. On Parallels, recorded at St. Peter's Church in New York City in December of 2000, the altoist brings his pure sound, obliquely swinging articulation and cliche-free melodic imagination to a set of standards and originals by himself and his former mentor, Lennie Tristano.

On half the eight tracks, tenorist Mark Turner plays the role Warne Marsh once took as Konitz's front-line partner in Tristano's group. He executes the virtuosic written lines of Tristano's "317 East 32nd " and Konitz's "Palo Alto" and "Subconscious-Lee" flawlessly and spins out twisty, serpentine, Marshlike improvisations that would be unexpected for a performer of his generation if not for his avowed respect for the late tenorist. On Konitz's " For Hans" and "LT," guitarist Peter Bernstein serves similarly as the altoist's foil, with his easy swinging hard-bop choruses offering a pleasant contrast to Konitz's exploratory improvisations.

Although the Tristano folks once favored a plain, metronomic rhythmic foundation, Konitz has long preferred the rhythmic drive and spark amply provided here by drummer (and producer) Bill Goodwin and bassist Steve Gilmore. The latter two are also given plenty of space for thoughtful solos of their own.

Originally published in March 2002
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