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Lee Konitz: A Q&A by Ethan Iverson

The alto master in conversation with the Bad Plus pianist and prolific jazz blogger

Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz (photo: Rolf Freiberger)
Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau and Paul Motian
Left to right: Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau and Paul Motian (photo: John Rogers)
Lee Konitz at Birdland
Lee Konitz (photo: John Rogers)

If you’re trying to imagine what jazz sounds like in a dream state, a new ECM disc titled Live at Birdland will get you there. A collection of standards recorded at the club in December 2009, the album features 83-year-old alto saxophonist Lee Konitz with the peerless lineup of Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

Konitz, pianist Mehldau and bassist Haden had traveled this road before, in the ’90s for the Blue Note trio albums Alone Together and Another Shade of Blue, and, with the addition of the famously elastic drummer Motian, Live at Birdland finds their chemistry working at ethereal new heights. That striking empathy, the unsung pioneer Lennie Tristano, and Konitz’s unending search for melody are just a few of the topics the saxophonist covers during this conversation with Ethan Iverson, the Bad Plus pianist and prolific jazz blogger.

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