Lee Konitz

Lee Konitz

born on 13/10/1927 in Chicago, IL, United States

died on 15/4/2020 in New York City, NY, United States

Lee Konitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Lee Konitz (born October 13, 1927) is an American composer and alto saxophonist.

He has performed successfully in a wide range of jazz styles, including bebop, cool jazz, and avant-garde jazz. Konitz's association with the cool jazz movement of the 1940s and 1950s includes participation in Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool[1] sessions and his work with pianist Lennie Tristano.[2] He was notable during this era as one of relatively few alto saxophonists to retain a distinctive style when Charlie Parker exerted a massive influence.

Like other students of Tristano, Konitz was noted for improvising long, melodic lines with the rhythmic interest coming from odd accents, or odd note groupings suggestive of the imposition of one time signature over another. Other saxophonists were strongly influenced by Konitz, notably Paul Desmond and Art Pepper.


Konitz was born on October 13, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois to Jewish parents of Austrian and Russian descent. Aged 11, Konitz received his first instrument: a clarinet. However, he later dropped the instrument in favor of the tenor saxophone. He eventually moved from tenor to alto. His greatest influences at the time were the swing big bands, to whom he and his brother listened on the radio, specifically, Benny Goodman. Hearing Goodman on the radio is, in fact, what prodded him to ask for a clarinet. He recalls improvising on the saxophone before ever learning to play any standards.[3]

Konitz began his professional career in 1945 with the Teddy Powell band as a replacement for Charlie Ventura. A month later, the band parted ways. Between 1945 and 1947, he worked off and on with Jerry Wald. In 1946, he first met pianist Lennie Tristano, and the two worked together in a small cocktail bar. His next substantial work was done with Claude Thornhill, in 1947, with Gil Evans arranging and Gerry Mulligan as a composer, in most part.[4][5]

He participated with Miles Davis in a group that had a brief booking in September 1948 and another the following year, but recorded in 1949 and 1950 the sides collected on the Birth of the Cool album. The presence of Konitz and other white musicians in the group angered some black jazz players, many of whom were unemployed at the time, but Davis rebuffed their criticisms.[6] Konitz has stated he considered the group to belong to Gerry Mulligan. His debut as leader also came in 1949 with sides later collected on the album Subconscious-Lee. (Prestige, 1955).[7] He also turned down an opportunity to work with Goodman in 1949—a decision he is on record as regretting.[5] Parker lent him support on the day Konitz's child was being born in Seattle, Washington, while he was stuck in New York City. The two were actually good friends, and not the rivals some jazz critics once made them out to be.[3]

In the early 1950s, Konitz recorded and toured with Stan Kenton's orchestra, but he continued to record under his own name. In 1961, he recorded Motion with Elvin Jones on drums and Sonny Dallas on bass. This spontaneous session, widely regarded as a classic, consisted entirely of standards. The loose trio format aptly featured Konitz's unorthodox phrasing and chromaticism. In 1967, Konitz recorded The Lee Konitz Duets, a series of duets with various musicians. The duo configurations were often unusual for the period (saxophone and trombone, two saxophones). The recordings drew on very nearly the entire history of jazz, from Louis Armstrong's "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" with valve trombonist Marshall Brown to two completely free duos: one with a Duke Ellington associate, violinist Ray Nance, and one with guitarist Jim Hall.

Konitz contributed to the film score for Desperate Characters (1971). In 1981, he performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival, which was held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Creative Music Studio.

Konitz has recorded or performed with, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Attila Zoller, Gerry Mulligan, Elvin Jones, and several others. His latest recordings are a pair of trio dates with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden, released on Blue Note as well a live album recorded in 2009 at Birdland and released by ECM in 2011 featuring the same lineup with the addition of drummer Paul Motian. Konitz has become more experimental as he has grown older, and has released a number of free and avant-garde jazz albums, playing alongside many far younger musicians. His album with Grace Kelly was given 4 1/2 stars by Michael Jackson in Down Beat magazine.[8] Konitz has released albums on contemporary free jazz/improv labels such as hatART, Soul Note, Omnitone and the aforementioned ECM.

He has also had problems with his heart which he has received surgery for in the past.[9] He was scheduled to appear at Melbourne's Recital Centre as a key attraction of the 2011 MelbourooInternational Jazz Festival. However he fell ill causing the last minute cancellation of the performance.

In August 2012 Konitz played to sell-out crowds at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village as part of Enfants Terribles, a collaboration with Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. Just days after his 87th birthday in 2014, Konitz played three nights at Cafe Stritch in San Jose, California with the Jeff Denson Trio, improvising on the old standards he favors.[10]


As leader/co-leader

  • 1949–50: Lee Konitz and Stan Getz The New Sounds (10", Prestige)
  • 1949–50: Subconscious-Lee (Prestige, 1949–50) aka Lee Konitz with Tristano, Marsh and Bauer
  • 1951: The New Sounds Lee Konitz Featuring Miles Davis (10", Prestige) - reissued on Conception in 1956)
  • 1953: Lee Konitz Plays with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet (Pacific Jazz) with Gerry Mulligan
  • 1954: Lee Konitz Plays (Vogue)
  • 1954: Lee Konitz at Storyville (Storyville)
  • 1954: Konitz (Storyville)
  • 1954: Lee Konitz in Harvard Square (Storyville)
  • 1955: Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh (Atlantic)
  • 1956: Lee Konitz featuring Hans Koller, Lars Gullin, Roland Kovac (Swingtime)
  • 1956: Inside Hi-Fi (Atlantic)
  • 1957: The Real Lee Konitz (Atlantic)
  • 1957: Very Cool (Verve)
  • 1957: Tranquility (Verve)
  • 1958: An Image: Lee Konitz with Strings (Verve)
  • 1959: Live at the Half Note (Verve)
  • 1959: Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre (Verve) with Jimmy Giuffre
  • 1959: You and Lee (Verve) arranged by Jimmy Giuffre
  • 1961: Motion (Verve)
  • 1965: Trio and Quartet (Magnetic)
  • 1966: Modern Jazz Compositions from Haiti (Impulse!)
  • 1967: The Lee Konitz Duets (Milestone)
  • 1968: Alto Summit (MPS) with Pony Poindexter, Phil Woods and Leo Wright
  • 1968: European Episode (Campi)
  • 1968: Impressive Rome (Campi)
  • 1968: Stereokonitz (RCA)
  • 1969: Peacemeal (Milestone)
  • 1971: Spirits (Milestone)
  • 1973: Altissimo (Philips) with Gary Bartz, Jackie McLean and Charlie Mariano
  • 1974: In Concert (India Navigation) with Chet Baker
  • 1974: Jazz à Juan (SteepleChase)
  • 1974: I Concentrate on You: A Tribute to Cole Porter (SteepleChase) with Red Mitchell
  • 1974: Lone-Lee (SteepleChase)
  • 1974: Satori (Milestone)
  • 1975: Oleo (Sonet)
  • 1975: Chicago 'n All That Jazz (Groove Merchant)
  • 1975: Windows (SteepleChase) with Hal Galper
  • 1975: Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange Vol. 1 (Storyville) with Warne Marsh
  • 1975: Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange Vol. 2 (Storyville) with Warne Marsh
  • 1975: Warne Marsh Lee Konitz: Jazz Exchange Vol. 3 (Storyville, 1975 [1985]) with Warne Marsh
  • 1976: Jazz a Confronto 32 (Horo)
  • 1976: Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again (Pausa) with Warne Marsh
  • 1976: The Lee Konitz Nonet (Roulette)
  • 1976: Figure & Spirit (Progressive)
  • 1977: Pyramid (Improvising Artists) with Paul Bley and Bill Connor
  • 1977: The Lee Konitz Quintet (Chiaroscuro)
  • 1977: Lee Konitz Nonet (Chiaroscuro)
  • 1977: French Concert (Galaxy) with the Shelly Manne Quartet
  • 1977: Duplicity (Horo) with Martial Solal
  • 1977–78: Tenorlee (Choice)
  • 1979: Yes, Yes, Nonet (SteepleChase)
  • 1979: Four Keys (MPS) with Martial Solal, John Scofield and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
  • 1979: Live at Laren (Soul Note)
  • 1979: Seasons Change (Circle) with Karl Berger
  • 1980: Heroes (Verve) with Gil Evans
  • 1980: Anti-Heroes (Verve) with Gil Evans
  • 1955-80: From Newport to Nice (Philology)
  • 1980: Live at the Berlin Jazz Days 1980 (MPS) with Martial Solal
  • 1981: Live in Genoa 1981 (Tramonti) with Art Farmer
  • 1982: High Jingo (Atlas)
  • 1982: Toot Sweet (Owl) with Michael Petrucciani
  • 1983: Dovetail (Sunnyside)
  • 1983: Art of the Duo (Enja) with Albert Mangelsdorff
  • 1983: Glad, Koonix! (Dragon)
  • 1983: Dedicated to Lee (Dragon) with Lars Sjösten
  • 1983: Star Eyes, Hamburg 1983 (HatOLOGY) with Martial Solal
  • 1984: Wild as Springtime (GFM)
  • 1986: Medium Rare (Label Bleu)
  • 1986: Ideal Scene (Soul Note)
  • 1987: The New York Album (Soul Note)
  • 1988: The Space Jazz Trio (with Enrico Pieranunzi): Blew (Philology)
  • 1988: Solitudes (Philology)
  • 1989: In Rio (MA)
  • 1989: Konitz in Denmark (Rightone)
  • 1988: Round and Round (Music Masters)
  • 1988: Saxophone Dreams (Koch) with Netherlands Metropole Orchestra
  • 1988-89: Frank-Lee Speaking (West Wind)
  • 1990: Zounds (Soul Note)
  • 1990: Once Upon a Line (Musidisc)
  • 1990: Swiss Kiss (TCB)
  • 1990: S'Nice (Nabel) with Frank Wunsch
  • 1991: Lullaby of Birdland (Candid)
  • 1992: Lunasea (Soul Note) with Peggy Stern
  • 1992: Unleemited (Owl) with Kenny Werner
  • 1992: Leewise (Storyville) with the Jazzpar All Star Nonet
  • 1992: Jazz Nocturne (Evidence)
  • 1992: Lee Konitz Meets Don Friedman (Camerata) with Don Friedman
  • 1992: So Many Stars (Philology)
  • 1992: The Jobim Colection (Philology)
  • 1993: Very Fool (High Tide) with Massimo Salvagnini Quartet
  • 1993: A Venezia (Philology) with Orchestra Il Suono Improvviso
  • 1993: Free with Lee (Philology)
  • 1993: Italian Ballads, Volume 1 (Philology) with Stefano Battaglia
  • 1993: Speakin' Lowly (Philology) with Renato Sellani
  • 1993: All the Way (The Soft Way) (Philology) with Renato Sellani
  • 1993: Rhapsody (Evidence)
  • 1993: Rhapsody II (Evidence)
  • 1994: We Thought About Duke (HatART) with Franz Koglmann
  • 1995: Haiku (Nabel)
  • 1995: Steps Towards a Dream (Odin) with John Pål Inderberg
  • 1995: Brazilian Rhapsody (Music Masters)
  • 1995: Breaths and Whispers (Philology) with Umberto Petrin
  • 1995: Thingin' (HatOLOGY) with Don Friedman and Attila Zoller
  • 1995: The Frankfurt Concert (West Wind) with Frank Wunsch
  • 1996: Body and Soul (Camerata)
  • 1996: It's You (SteepleChase)
  • 1996: Strings for Holiday: A Tribute to Billie Holiday (Enja)
  • 1996: Inside Cole Porter (Philology)
  • 1996: Inside Rogers (Philology)
  • 1996: Dearly Beloved (SteepleChase)
  • 1996: Unaccompanied Live in Yokohama (PSF)
  • 1996: Alone Together (Blue Note)
  • 1997: Self Portrait (Philology)
  • 1997: L'Age Mur (Philology) with Enrico Rava
  • 1997: Dig Dug Dog (Columbia)
  • 1997: Out of Nowhere (SteepleChase) with Paul Bley
  • 1997: RichLee! (SteepleChase) with Rich Perry
  • 1998: Dialogues (Challenge)
  • 1996–7: Another Shade of Blue (Blue Note)
  • 1998: Subconscious-Lee (Summit) with Johannes Schaedlich:
  • 1999: Three Guys (Enja) with Steve Swallow and Paul Motian
  • 1998: Tender Lee (For Chet) (Philology)
  • 1999: Sound of Surprise (RCA Victor)
  • 1999: Dig-It (SteepleChase) with Ted Brown
  • 1999: Pride (SteepleChase)
  • 2000: Lee Konitz & the Axis String Quartet Play French Impressionist Music from the Turn of the 20th Century (Palmetto) with the Axis Quartet
  • 2000: Lee Konitz at the New Mississippi Jazz Club (Philology)
  • 2000: Some New Stuff (DIW)
  • 2000: Live-Lee (Milestone) with Alan Broadbent
  • 2000: More Live-Lee (Milestone) with Alan Broadbent
  • 2000: Parallels (Chesky)
  • 2003: A Day in Florence (Philology)
  • 2004: BargaLee (Philology)
  • 2004: Sound-Lee (Membran)
  • 2004: One Day with Lee (Capri)
  • 2004: Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor String Project: Inventions (OmniTone)
  • 2005: New Nonet (Directed by Ohad Talmor) (OmniTone)
  • 2006: Organic-Lee (SteepleChase) with Gary Versace
  • 2006: Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor Big Band: Portology (OmniTone)
  • 2008: Lee Konitz/Grace Kelly: GRACEfulLEE (Pazz)
  • 2008: Lee Konitz & Minsarah: Deep Lee (Enja)
  • 2009: Lee Konitz / Dan Tepfer: Duos with Lee (Sunnyside)
  • 2009: Lee Konitz New Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard (Enja)
  • 2011: Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian: Live at Birdland (ECM)
  • 2014: Lee Konitz/Dan Tepfer/Michael Janisch/Jeff Williams: First Meeting: Live in London, Volume 1 (Whirlwind)
  • 2 017: Lee Konitz / Kenny Barron / Peter Washington / Kenny Washington: Frescalalto (Impulse!)

As sideman

With Chick Corea

  • Woodstock Jazz Festival 1 (Douglas Music, 1981 [1997]) with
  • Woodstock Jazz Festival 2 (Douglas Music, 1981 [1997]) with Anthony Braxton, Pat Metheney, Jack DeJohnette, and Miroslav Vitous

With Miles Davis

  • The Miles Davis Tuba Band (w/ Lennie Tristano) – Why Do I Love You? Rare Broadcasts 1947–48 (Natasha, 1993)
  • Birth of the Cool (Capitol, 1949)
  • Miles Ahead (1957)

With Lennie Tristano

  • Intuition, Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh: (rec. 1949, Capitol, 1996)
  • Crosscurrents (Capitol, 1949 [1972])
  • Lennie Tristano (Atlantic, 1956)

With Stan Kenton

  • City of Glass (Capitol, 1951)
  • New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm (Capitol, 1952)
  • Popular Favorites by Stan Kenton (Capitol, 1953)
  • Sketches on Standards (Capitol, 1953)
  • This Modern World (Capitol, 1953)
  • Portraits on Standards (Capitol, 1953)
  • The Kenton Era (Capitol, 1940–54, [1955])

With Gerry Mulligan

  • The Gerry Mulligan Songbook (World Pacific, 1957)

With others

  • 1947: Claude Thornhill and His Orchestra: The Uncollected Claude Thornhill and His Orchestra (Hindsight)
  • 1951: Ralph Burns and His Orchestra: Free Forms
  • 1956: Metronome All-Stars: Metronome All-Stars 1956 (Clef)
  • 1957: Gil Evans: Gil Evans & Ten (Prestige)
  • 1959: Warne Marsh: The Art of Improvising (Revelation, 1974)
  • 1966: Dave Pike: The Doors of Perception (Vortex, 1970)
  • 1968: Attila Zoller: Zo-Ko-Ma (MPS)
  • 1972: Charles Mingus: Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert (Columbia)
  • 1974: Dave Brubeck: All The Things We Are (Atlantic)
  • 1975: Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange (Storyville)
  • 1975: Hal Galper: Windows (SteepleChase)
  • 1977: Bill Evans: Crosscurrents (Fantasy)
  • 1980: Martial Solal: Live at the Berlin Jazz Days (MPS)
  • 1983: Martial Solal: Star Eyes, Hamburg 1983 (HatOLOGY)
  • 1984: Max Roach: It's Christmas Again (Soul Note)
  • 1990: Frank Wunsch Quartet: S'Nice (Nabel)
  • 1991: Lars Sjosten Quartet: Friends (Dragon)
  • 1993: Renato Sellani: Speakin' Lowly, Volume 1 (Philology)
  • 1994: Orchestra Il Suono Improvviso: A Venezia (Philology)
  • 1995: Umberto Petrin: Breaths and Whispers (Homage to Alexander Scriabin) (Philology)
  • 1995: John Pl Indreberg: Step Towards a Dream (Odin)
  • 1995: Don Friedman with Attila Zoller: Thingin' (HatOLOGY)
  • 1997: Kenny Wheeler: Angel Song (ECM)
  • 1998: Gerry Mulligan All-Star Tribute Band: Thank You, Gerry! (Arkadia Jazz)
  • 1998: Diane Hubka: Haven't We Met? (Challenge)
  • 2000: The Axis Quartet: Play French Impressionist Music from the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Palmetto)
  • 2000: Rich Perry: RichLee! (SteepleChase)
  • 2001: Franco D'Andrea: Inside Rodgers (Philology)
  • 2001: Renato Sellani: Minority, Volume 2: All the Way (The Soft Ways) (Philology)
  • 2002: Matt Wilson: Gong with Wind Suite (SteepleChase)
  • 2002: Irio de Paula: Duas contas (Philology)
  • 2002: Barbara Casini: Outra vez (Philology)
  • 2003: Stefano Bollani: Suite for Paolo (Philology)
  • 2003: Kenny Werner: Unleemited (Owl)
  • 2006: Francois Théberge: Soliloque (Effendi)
  • 2007: Riccardo Arrighini: The Soprano Sax Album: Standards (Philology)
  • 2007: Brian Dickenson: The Glenn Gould Session (Philology)
  • 2009: Jakob Bro: Balladeering (Loveland)
  • 2009: Dan Tepfer: Duos with Lee (Sunnyside)
  • 2011: Jakob Bro: Time (Loveland)
  • 2011: Marcel·lí Bayer: Nonitz Featuring Lee Konitz (Quadrant)
  • 2013: Jakob Bro: December Song (Loveland)

Television appearances

  • SOLOS: The Jazz Sessions[11] (2004)
  • Weightless – a recording session with Jakob Bro (2009)
  • Public television series in the late 1950s with Warne Marsh, Billy Taylor, Bill Evans, Mundell Lowe and others.


  1. ^ "Birth of the Cool". Wikipedia. 2017-08-10. 
  2. ^ "Lennie Tristano". Wikipedia. 2017-05-16. 
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Michael. "An interview with Lee Konitz". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  4. ^ Hamilton, p. 265
  5. ^ a b Gordon, Jack. "Lee Kontiz", Jazz Journal, December 1998, pp. 6–8
  6. ^ "So I just told them that if a guy could play as good as Lee Konitz played—that's who they were mad about most, because there were a lot of black alto players around—I would hire him every time, and I wouldn't give a damn if he was green with red breath. I'm hiring a motherfucker to play, not for what color he is." Miles Davis, Autobiography
  7. ^ Neal Umphred Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Jazz Albums' 1949–69, Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1994, p.290
  8. ^ Jackson, Michael. "GRACEfulLEE Grace Kelly/Lee Konitz-Down Beat Review" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-10. 
  9. ^ Jung, Fred. "A Fireside Chat With Lee Konitz". Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  10. ^ San Jose Mercury News, October 16, 2014.
  11. ^ Lee Konitz. Solosjazz.com. Retrieved on 2012-06-29.


  • Hamilton, Andy and Konitz, Lee (2007), Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art, University of Michigan Press, ISBN 0472032178. Crafted out of numerous interviews between the author and his subject, the book describes Konitz's life and music.

External links

  • A 1985 interview
  • Lee Konitz: 12 Memorable Duets by Thierry Quénum (Jazz.com)
  • Lee Konitz Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard by NPR
  • French documentary of Konitz and Dan Tepfer European tour
  • Lee Konitz on IMDb
This page was last modified 28.11.2017 22:35:54

This article uses material from the article Lee Konitz from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.