It’s probably stated any time his name comes up in discussion, but it bears repeating: Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz always seem to play a new song, even if the album lists a well-worn standard or one of his own oft-recorded compositions. “Lover Man,” on his ECM release Live at Birdland, proved this a few months ago, as Konitz was not in the same city as the theme. Now, the only thing better than a new take on “Thingin’” is an unaccompanied version of his “All the Things You Are” expansion. It offers a private journey into the man’s mind and is one of three solo pieces that open this disc.
These nine tracks come from two albums that Konitz recorded with German pianist Frank Wunsch, Into It – Solos and Duos and Frank-Lee Speaking, both originally released on West Wind in the early ’90s. The matchup presents Konitz in a setting more akin to a chamber group than the ensembles in which he’s often found. The rich natural echo of the brief solo “Three of Four” sets the tone for the six duet tracks, and it plays up the strength of Konitz’s rich tone. The intro of “Starlight Variation” plays up the command he has throughout his horn’s range. Wunsch brings a delicate quality to his interaction with the saxophonist, pushing him into an even more classical mood on “Echoes D’Eric Satie” or giving him the chance to switch mid-song to soprano during “Frankly Speaking.”
Wunsch brings a delicate quality to his interaction with the saxophonist, pushing him toward a classical aesthetic on “Echoes D’Eric Satie” or giving him the chance to switch to soprano midway through “Frankly Speaking.”