Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz chose L.A.’s Jazz Bakery as the site for the summit meeting with bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Brad Mehldau in Dec. ’96. Blue Note recorded this trio’s 1st album, Alone Together, which was released in ’97. This 2nd installment is further testament to the extraordinary 3-way discourse essayed by these Jazz veterans (representing 3 generations of Jazz artistry, each of these players has expanded the boundaries of the music’s potential).
This second collection of tunes from a 1996 trio engagement at California’s Jazz Bakery is nearly as rigorous and rewarding as its predecessor, Alone Together. With an iconoclastic alto-sax style that blends cerebral turns of phrase with a tone so dry it’s practically parched, Konitz dares listeners–not to mention bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Brad Mehldau–to plumb the harmonic potential and rhythmic nuance of a handful of songs, the shortest of which clocks in at nearly 11 minutes. In an intimate, drummerless ensemble with Haden and Mehldau as sensitive sidemen, Konitz has the right mix of freedom and context to exploit his quirky relationship with the blues–he is almost always of the genre but never really inside it. Tinkering with tone and tempo, the trio derives new shapes and colors from indestructible gems like “Body and Soul” and the Johnny Mercer-Hoagy Carmichael standard, “Everything Happens to Me”; wrings out Konitz’s title track; and concludes with the improvisational jam “All of Us.” Haden gently guides the rhythm with his fat tone, while Mehldau, a generation or two younger than his cohorts, is harmonically sound but alternately adds a welcome froth to Konitz’s implacable flow and, on occasion, disrupts the quietude of the sonic séance. –Britt Robson
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