Chris Cheek / Lee Konitz / Stephane Furic Leibovici

Jugendstil II

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Though renowned saxophonists Lee Konitz and Chris Cheek are the principal players on this date, it is bassist/composer Stephane Furic Leibovici who is the ostensible leader and music director. Still, Konitz and Cheek take the bulk of the load on melodic, harmonic, and respectful improvisations that are framed by Leibovici. Producer Jim Black states in the liner notes that the space inserted is more prevalent than the notes, and to a great degree, he is spot-on. What alto saxophone master Konitz and high-caliber tenor man Cheek provide goes far beyond good musical common sense and into magical discourse time and time again on this consistently delightful recording that implies more than it forcefully delineates. Leibovici enjoys a good groove after the fact, as the saxophones mess around on sparring jabs during "Odysseus Returns Home" and "Tomorrow I Shall Dance for You," which act as tone setters for the program. Ostinato bass, the blues, spiritually based music, and a bit of unison playing enter the picture, while Black on glockenspiel, vibes, or chimes, flute player Dan Dorrance, Maria Garcia on celeste, Joy Plaisted on harp, and clarinetist Chris Speed make token appearances. But it is the brilliant telepathy and telemetry of Konitz and Cheek that stirs this drink, swimming past upstream currents with ultimate confidence, calm, and reserve. In many ways a beautiful recording, and one that should not intimidate anyone, Leibovici and his talented friends have made one of the better collections of improvised recordings of recent memory, and it comes with a very high recommendation.

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