The great Lee Konitz began his career in the shadow of the legendary Charlie Parker. Most jazz historian types are hip to the fact that Konitz was mentored by Lennie Tristano and after recording with Warne Marsh became perhaps the only alto player to offer a clear alternative to the Parker sound that was so dominant at the time. Konitz has long been an innovator in the development of hard bop and with the 1949 release Intuition, Konitz can easily be called the modern day grandfather of the free jazz movement despite the more popular schools of thought giving this recognition to Ornette Coleman and stretching the argument to carefully wedge in a segment of John Coltrane's career.
With Costumes Are Mandatory we find the 85 year young Konitz sitting in with Ethan Iverson, best known as the pianist for The Bad Plus. Iverson is a prolific composer of extreme depth and versatility and the somewhat conceptual nature of this project celebrates the contributions of Konitz while keeping an eye firmly on the musical legacy that has been created thanks to his pioneering work. The creativity of this ensemble which also includes bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy is off the charts. Dynamic new aural dimensions of sound coupled with deconstructed standards take everything we thought we knew about theory, form and function of modern jazz and flips it to a post modern exploratory of what could well be referred to as a Back To The Future riff on post modern jazz
Standard such as "Try A Little Tenderness" along with "Body and Soul" hit that special organic sweet spot with "Body and Soul" a stunning duet with Konitz and bassist Larry Grenadier. An intriguing aspect of this riff on the Konitz influence would have to be the six short tracks without Konitz where pianist Iverson takes the opportunity to make his own musical statement either accepting or rejecting the Tristano influence as the release develops.
Lee Konitz continues to amaze and redefine the importance of phrasing in relation to the group dynamic. At a point in his life and career when most musicians have either long since retired or relegate themselves to guest artist appearances or clinician work, Konitz clearly shows he has plenty of gas left in the tank on this most compelling release.
Tracks: Blueberry Ice Cream take 2; Try A Little Tenderness; It's You (Tempo Complex); It's You; What's New; 317 East 32nd; Body and Soul; Blueberry Hill; A Distant Bell; Bats; Mr. Bumi; My New Lovers All Seem So Tame; My Old Flame; Blueberry Ice Cream take 1.
Personnel: Ethan Iverson: piano; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone, vocal (track13); Larry Grenadier: bass; Jorge Rossy: drums.