Sunday, August 28, 2016

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Lee Konitz

Artist:Lee Konitz

Like his buddy and long time collaborator Warne Marsh, alto sax player Lee Konitz is a forgotten pioneer of jazz. The album Subconcious-Lee was his 1950 debut as a leader after recording with Lennie Tristano and Miles Davis. The great thing is that Konitz is still around. He was born Oct. 13, 1927 in Chicago. His parents were Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He asked for a clarinet after listening to Benny Goodman on the radio. Konitz switched to sax and for most of his career he has played alto sax. His first professional job was in Teddy Powell's band in 1945. Then he was in Claude Thornhill's band. It was there that he met Gerry Mulligan. Before that he had met pianist Lennie Tristano and the two started working together. Gil Evans was the arranger in the Thornhill band and that led to many of the guys in that band working with Miles Davis on the 1949 landmark album Birth Of The Cool including Konitz and Mulligan. Konitz has always said that he thought Mulligan was the real leader of that band and soon after Mulligan moved to California. Meanwhile, Konitz and Marsh recorded with Tristano and this led to Konitz's 1950 debut as a leader Subconicious-Lee on Prestige. The musicians were the Tristano band with Marsh on tenor sax, Billy Bauer on guitar, Arnold Fishkin on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. This jazz classic is available as a budget CD. Konitz continued to record as a leader while a member of Stan Kenton's band in the 50s. Konitz retired from music in the early 60s. But he returned in the mid-60s and he still tours and records though he had heart surgery a few years ago. Here's Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh on tenor sax, Billy Taylor on piano, Mundell Lowe on guitar, Ed Safranski on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums performing Subconcious-Lee on the 1958 TV show The Subject Is Jazz.

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