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Lee Konitz: After Hours

This album was recorded at the Artist Quarter in St. Paul, Minn., after the club had closed for the night. Owners Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst, who also happen to play bass and drums, respectively, rolled the tape while they and Konitz jammed together. Actually, “jammed” may be too aggressive a description, since much of the music here is of the cerebral variety.

Konitz, of course, is one of the great linearists in jazz, one who finds nuggets in abstract embellishments, veiled references to the melody and distant harmonic touchstones. I think his dry tone and emotional temperance work against greater enjoyment of his art. But by the same token, he doesn’t hide behind inflated expression. There is only the bare-bones line and its relationship to the harmony and the interplay of other musicians.

There are six performances: “It’s You or No One,” “Alone Together,” “Mr. Green,” “Sweet and Lovely,” “Stella by Starlight” and “How Deep Is the Ocean?” The tempos are mostly medium. Peterson and Horst engage in firm push-pull counterpoint. The bassist suggests Charlie Haden-meets-Richard Davis, and Horst gets in some slippery, springy lumps reminiscent of Elvin Jones. For a trio, there’s a lot going on but it is not what you would call congested.

Following Konitz’s linear logic is challenging-and ultimately rewarding.

Originally Published