A rather 'unique' recording.
SM R | PA United States | 07/06/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I admit - I am a Chicago fan. Love the show. Have many discs, and this is one of the last ones, that I know of, in order to complete my collection of `must have'. Surprised when it arrived; I did not think that it was possible to have such a mediocre interpretation of Kander / Ebb with a recording so close to the opening of the original production.Koonitz is no doubt a very talented sax player, but even in the cover notes, it speaks of his strong desire to be independent. In my humble opinion, he went a bit too far. The disc is only about him. The drummer has only one opportunity for a solo, about six bars in the entire disc. (A travesty!) The rest of the band is there - not flashy, not terrible. Again, no real opportunity for any of the handing off associated with music from the 20's right through to the end of the Big Band Era. An oddity that creeps into some of the numbers - someone (perhaps Mr. Koonitz showcasing his `other talents'), sings in this deep bass / electronic monotone. It is quite disconcerting.Ten Percent, a cut from the show, is included here. Loopin' is also included, in much the form as heard today. (Loopin' was adapted for the stunning overture and subsequent segue into `All That Jazz'.) Here Mr. Koonitz does not wreak much havoc on the genius of John Kander. The rest of the songs are bland, at best. The keys player seems to have only one `trick', a series of descending notes on the upper ranges of his synthesizer. He also seems to be quite fond of using the `string' overlay behind his piano sound. Interestingly, Mr. Kander often uses the same tricks over and over (the chromatic scale traveling toward opposite ends of the keyboard in a triplet feel, his sustained vamps, using specific chord patterns), though they always sound fresh and new, especially when associated with the lyrics of Mr. Ebb. Perhaps the I am also feeling the loss of orchestrations by Ralph Burns. He captured the music of Kander at best. His inventive arrangements for the instrumentalists, combined with Fosse's demand for percussion effects, gave Kander's music a unique touch . . . something distinct and recognizable. This disc loses that `special something'.Apart from the mentioned `singing', the disc would be nice to listen to during a raucous dinner party. Other than that, it is for people who have to have every recording of the show, no matter the quality. Only two stars - simply for the interpretations of the two cuts."
Pleasant listen for Konitz fans.
J. Levinson | Media, PA USA | 01/06/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Altoist Lee Konitz and his augmented nonet perform eight numbers from the musical Chicago, all tunes written by Kander & Ebb. They play with enthusiasm and melodic creativity, and some of the themes are quite catchy. The playing time is brief but the performances are surprisingly pleasing. Major Holley's deep reedy vocals are an acquired taste, but he is effectively charming on "Razzle Dazzle", harmonizing tightly with his bowed bass. If you're primarily a fan of the musical and not much of a jazz fan, you probably should pass on this. However, as a budget-priced item, this CD can be recommended to the vast legions of Konitz and Holley fans.Lee Konitz - Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Major Holley - Bass, Vocals
Dick Katz - Piano, Piano (Electric)
Mike Longo - Synthesizer, Keyboards
Ray Armando - Percussion
George Davis - Guitar
Joe Farrell - Sax (Tenor)
Eddie Locke - Drums
Lloyd Michels - Trumpet
Don Palmer - Sax (Tenor)
Alan Raph - Trombone
Richard Hurwitz - Trumpet
Barry Maur - Trombone..."