A master in congenial company
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 08/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This one's grown on me a lot--indeed, perhaps of Konitz's recent "mainstream" discs this is one I'm fondest of, even more than rather more attention-grabbing discs like _Three Guys_ or _The Sound of Surprise_. Lovely sound on this disc, from a recording in a church by the audiophile label Chesky. The band has the fine guitarist Peter Bernstein--no surprises from him, as he works a seam somewhere in the vicinity of Wes Montgomery & Grant Green, but he does it well--& the frequently-encountered team of Steve Gilmore on bass & the wonderfully sly drummer Bill Goodwin. The session is split into two parts. The first half has the more interesting repertoire: a brisk reading of "How Deep Is the Ocean", a welcome & unexpected rendition of "Skylark" (one of Carmichael's most demanding tunes); & two originals, neither of them apparently based on standard chord-changes: the angular "For Hans" (dedicated to the saxophonist Hans Koller, who contributed the cover-art), & a slinky minor-key tribute to Tristano, "LT". The second half of the album brings on the young tenor player Mark Turner, whose playing is informed like most younger players by Coltrane but who has entirely immersed himself in Warne Marsh's oeuvre too. Together he & Konitz run down three Tristanoite chestnuts ("317 East 32nd"--compare this to Turner's reading with Joshua Redman on Turner's self-titled Warner debut--, "Palo Alto", & "Subconscious Lee") & a themeless improvisation based on "Star Eyes". There's real sparkle in the interplay here: Konitz's soloing nowadays is pared down & relaxed, a far cry from the overwhelmingly intricate lines he was essaying on classic early albums like _Motion_, but nonetheless the saxophone pairing has much of the empathetic but jousting quality of the classic Marsh/Konitz recordings.A lovely album. On the whole the greatest Konitz performances in recent years have come in less comfortable situations--check out the superb disc on Palmetto of French impressionist music for Konitz & string quartet, for instance, or the excellent free-ish disc _Rhapsody_. But there's a place for the kind of comfortable but alert jazz he produces in less unusual contexts too, & this is a highly worthwhile disc."