Lee Konitz

Rhapsody

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Lee Konitz's Evidence release has seven selections from the veteran altoist that utilize different all-star personnel. The performances all have a similar commitment to relaxed and melodic freedom, but some work better than others. "I Hear a Rhapsody" (featuring a haunting vocal by Helen Merrill) precedes a more abstract "Rhapsody" (titled "Lo-Ko-Mo-And Frizz") which has wandering interplay by Konitz (on alto, soprano, and tenor), Joe Lovano (switching between tenor, alto clarinet, and soprano), guitarist Bill Frisell, and drummer Paul Motian. Jay Clayton's beautiful voice and adventurous style is well displayed on "The Aerie," and baritone great Gerry Mulligan sounds reasonably comfortable on a free improvisation with Konitz and pianist Peggy Stern, but a fairly straightforward vocal by Judy Niemack on "All the Things You Are" is followed by an overlong (19-minute) exploration of the same chord changes (renamed "Exposition") by the quartet of Konitz, clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre, pianist Paul Bley, and bassist Gary Peacock; their different approaches never really mesh together, and this selection is a bit of a bore. The final performance, an extroverted duet by Konitz (on soprano) and flügelhornist Clark Terry (titled "Flyin': Mumbles and Jumbles") adds some badly needed humor to the set. While one can admire Lee Konitz for still challenging himself after all this time, some of the dryer material on the CD (especially the two quartet numbers) should have been performed again; maybe the next versions would have been more inspired.

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