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Lee Konitz/Don Friedman/Attila Zoller: Thingin

Konitz, Zoller and Friedman play as one here. Indeed, they do seem to share similar musical backgrounds and values-Konitz and Friedman’s playing is marked by Lennie Tristano-and have worked together previously.

The great, innovative alto saxman Konitz was a charter member of the Tristano school. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he was, with the exception of Charlie Parker, the major modern jazz altoist. However, by 1957 Konitz was already altering his style. He said then, “I’m not as concerned anymore with setting the world on fire with original music.” He went on to talk about how he was more concerned with playing with “feeling.” (Actually, his earlier playing, although subtle, had been full of warmth and lyricism.) The consequence of Konitz’s attitude was that he began using a heavier, more Parker-like tone, which was sometimes kind of whiney, instead of the beautiful Lester Young-like timbre he’d been employing, and improvising so deliberately that his playing not only swung less, but became a bit clumsy rhythmically. Contributing to this was his use of dotted eighth-sixteenth note figures, which gave his improvising a chugging rather than smoothly swinging quality. Konitz remained a great player, but his graceful, virtuoso up-tempo work of 1949 to 1954 became a thing of the past.

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