Alto Sax recorded masterwork of the 20th century
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 02/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A few years ago I was listening to the Verve Story 1944-1994, a 4CD compilation which is a pretty good retrospective. Everything was going along very nicely thankyou - the usual suspects were grooving high, Getz and Gillespie, Parker and Powell, Hawkins and Haden, then BAM! I dropped everything, hit the repeat button and raised the volume - I was listening to Lee Konitz (alto) Sonny Dallas (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums)and they were doing all sorts of things to Johnny Mercer's I Remember You. It was like being struck by an unknown force. This music stood out among the greatest jazz artists of the century. It was remarkable. Clearly it was related in style to the Lennie Tristano of Lennie Tristano/The New Tristano (Rhino R2 71595) on which Mr Konitz appears. Mr Tristano's method was to have the bass and drums establish a simple but persistent and unintrusive pulse over which he would improvise harmonic, melodic and rhythmic variations. On the original MOTION this pulse was provided by Mr Sonny Dallas on bass, but the drumming is another matter which I'll return to. If Mr Rollins was the master on tenor of the trio format, then Mr Konitz is so on the alto. I consider this reissue of MOTION, which adds two previously unissued CD's to the original album, a 20th century masterwork, among the very best documentation of the alto sax in jazz. Who would think a skinny bespectacled white dude of 33 years of age and the most renowned drummer in jazz at the time whose night job was with Mr Coltrane and his Quartet at the Village Vanguard, could speak with such magic to each other? The musical conversation they had goes beyond music; perhaps because of their mutual respect, or the freedom the producer Creed Taylor allowed them. In any case, the rest of the sessions where Mr Nick Stabulas takes over the drummer's chair are also top class, and a wonderful listening experience. All the tunes are standards but the feeling, inventiveness and swing provided by these musicians makes one feel the composers would be grateful that their works were chosen as vehicles for exploration. This reissue is a valuable document of a great meeting of some master musicians."
Lee Konitz is blistering; Elvin Jones is a powerhouse
Ian Muldoon | 07/28/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This limited edition will not last long -- Don't miss your chance to get this sensational 1964 session featuring Lee Konitz at his absolute best! As amazing as is Konitz' playing, it is Elvin Jones who steals the show -- he is simply smokin' from the opening beat and never lets up for a moment in this powerhouse trio setting. Verve issued this as a single CD during the mid 1980s and it quickly went out of print. This 3-CD reissue includes all the alternate takes and unissued performances from these sessions. For Lee Konitz afficionados, this is as good as it gets!"
Subtle melody statements; great improvisation; great trio
John Russon | Toronto, ON Canada | 01/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not usually keen on reissues that include alternate takes, so I don't know what prompted me to buy a three disc set mostly comprised of re-takes; what a great purchase, though! The five "official" takes from the original album with Lee Konitz (saxophone), Sonny Dallas (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) are exceptional, and make a great album in their own right. I really appreciate the wealth of other material from these sessions, though. There are many more tunes, all done in a very interesting fashion, and the alternate takes are all rich in interestingly different interpretations of the tunes. Disc 1 includes alternate takes from the official sessions, and discs 2 and 3 include takes done with a different drummer (Nick Stabulas). What I notice most about the playing is Konitz's playing of the heads to the tunes. He is so subtle in the way he presents the melodies--only a small fragment of a phrase here and there--that you might not recognize the tune initially; if you do know the tunes, though, you will be struck by how tastefully (and elusively) he evokes the tune; it makes normal versions of the songs in which players state the whole melody seem terribly heavy-handed. This album very much captures for me the spirit of jazz as original, spontaneous improvization moving forward from a composed tune (rather than being bound by the tune and simply reproducing it). Lee Konitz currently is making lots of great music, but I like this album from 1961 the best: better even than his original work with Lennie Tristano. This album--along with the alternate takes--belongs in the collection of every serious jazz fan."