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Lee Konitz/Rich Perry: Richlee!

Boswell, in his Life of Dr. Johnson, talks about “the excellencies of lively conversation.” Too bad he didn’t get to review the excellencies of the musical talk between Lee Konitz and Rich Perry. RichLee! is filled with conversations that deserve maximum exposure as Konitz and Perry engage in fascinating dialogues that flow as smoothly as those between Jay and Kai, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker or, closer to this timbre, Konitz and Warne Marsh.

Perry tones down his usual intellectual style here, probably in deference to the veteran, which puts them on the same page. They listen to each other when filling gaps and even when “talking” at the same time. The gap filling is best on “Moonlight in Vermont,” where Perry and Konitz don’t just espouse theories, but comment on each other’s ideas. At times on “Moonlight,” Konitz, the unabashed romantic, conjures up Paul Desmond on steroids; on Porter’s “I Love You” he hints at a Getz-like bellow.

There is little opportunity for the rest of the group to horn in on such a duologue, but pianist Harold Danko and drummer Billy Drummond take their best shots on Miles Davis’ “Half Nelson.” But the focus is exactly where it should be: on dialogue such as “How Deep Is the Ocean?” where Konitz and Perry ask the title’s rhetorical question so eloquently.

RichLee! is a great meeting of musical minds.

Originally Published