Monday, September 10, 2012

Konitz/Frisell/Peacock/Baron Enfants Terribles Half Note 2012

At a time when Charlie Parker was the driving force of jazz in the 1940's, Lee Konitz was a driving force in the Cool Jazz movement by simply being himself. A distinct sound and style largely influenced by pianist and theory god Lennie Tristano made Konitz pass the torch to then up and coming Paul Desmond and especially Art Pepper. There have been no alto players (with the possible exception of Phil Woods) that can match the improvisational melodic lines with odd meter accents that Konitz continues to astound audiences with today.

Recorded live at the Blue Note in New York from June 4-5 2011 we have more than an all star quartet rolling out some standards with the all too familiar Cool Jazz punch that Konitz exhibited on the Miles Davis Birth Of The Cool sessions. What took place over two nights in the Big Apple would best be described as an incredible jazz collective whose lineage began in 1945 and continues stong to this day. Joining Konitz on this most auspicious occasion would be Bill Frisell on guitar, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Joey Baron. All with impressive individual careers their collaboration takes the well worn standard and with a stunning display of interplay and harmonic cohesiveness they breath new life into such iconic classics as "Body and Soul" and "Stella By Starlight."

What makes this recording special is that the ensemble works without a net and a leader - literally. When this formidable collective hit the stage there was no preconceived set list, no prior discussions, no self imposed limitations of what would take place. I believe they call it a "good hang." This live release is organic, raw and as real as jazz gets. In the liner notes Joey Baron offered perhaps the best review stating, "Stay out of the way, allow the burn. It doesn't matter what the repertoire is (or once was); it's the now of the players that provides the specialness of the event."

Enfants Terribles Live At The Blue Note is an experience more so than a traditional release. Tunes are reharmed but melodies are never mangled. Harmonics are shifted on the fly to match the dynamics of the group. A jazz collective with a harmonious synergy and an unspoken chemistry that allow four distinct voices to play as one. Bill Frisell adds a unique dynamic tension at times with his harmonic genius. Gary Peacock is a lyrical beast on bass while Joey Baron plays with the finesse needed to help drive this musical train. Lee Konitz remains as uniquely identifiable today as he did in 1945 when he began his professional career.

Sometimes a review is simply not necessary. One should acknowledge musical genius, not review it.

Tracks: What Is This Thing Called Love; Body And Soul; Stella By Starlight; I'll Remember April; I Remember You; I Can't Get Started.

Personnel: Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Bill Frisell: guitar; Gary Peacock: bass; Joey Baron: drums.