Hm, what's wrong here?
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 10/27/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's a bit hard to put a finger on why this one (& its companion _Live-Lee_) leave me cold--after all, I'm a big fan of Konitz's & also of Alan Broadbent. But it does seem a curiously "neutral" album--neither intense nor relaxed, delicate but not exactly pretty, rather impassive & mannered. Konitz is often said to be a cliche-free player (including in the liner notes here) but he does seem unduly inclined to chew over the same notes & use the same pet phrases (circling around notes like slowed-down bebop tags). & though Lee sometimes can be a fierce or cussed player, or alternately can have a great sense of humour (sample some of the wacky "vocal" tracks on albums like _The Sound of Surprise_), the music here just seems self-sufficient & self-involved. The always wonderful pianist Alan Broadbent sounds fine here, of course, but even he sounds a bit dried out--& I'm not sure that his decision to use Tristano-style walking-bass in the left hand was the right one: he does it so unemphatically (rarely bothering to accent the offbeats) that it kills any sense of swing. (Tristano used to play such lines hard & deliberately--I'm not sure that that exactly swung either but it did give the music a real intensity.) I like some of the tracks on this disc--"Invitation", "Thingin'" & "Just Friends", primarily--but the ballads can be terribly papery: this has got to be one of the most emotionally flat versions of "Body & Soul" I've ever heard. There's plenty to admire here--Konitz, like Steve Lacy or Evan Parker (two other purist's-purist musicians), is rarely capable of a less-than-excellent performance--, but it's not exactly a fun album; unless you're already a big fan of Konitz's work I'd suggest approaching this disc with some caution."