Lee Konitz – Episode 13

On this episode of the Chiaroscuro Podcast, we feature one of the most durable and multifaceted jazz artists who has recorded for Chiaroscuro, saxophonist Lee Konitz, whose musical career spanned from 1945 until his passing in 2020 at the age of 92.

About Lee Konitz

Konitz recorded well over 100 albums as a leader, and his musical associations include generations of leading jazz musicians, including Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, and Miles Davis up to rocker Elvis Costello. Born into an immigrant family in Chicago, he developed an early interest in music, inspired by recordings by Benny Goodman. He received his first clarinet at age 11, and began his professional career in 1945. The next year, he met influential pianist and composer Lenny Tristano. In 1947, he worked with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra with arrangements by Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans. 

Then in 1949 and 1950, he was part of one of the most influential series of recording sessions of the era, Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool. It was a distinctive nonet format. Konitz was the last surviving member of those Birth of the Cool sessions.

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s he continued to record prolifically with such associates as Elvin Jones, Dave Brubeck, and Ornette Coleman.

About the Music

Lee Konitz recorded two albums for Chiaroscuro in 1977, a quintet, and a nonet. Though the nine-piece band was the same size as the Kind of Blue sessions, the sound is quite different. Here from the Lee Konitz Nonet album on Chiaroscuro is the band’s arrangement of one of the best known compositions by bebop innovator Tadd Dameron, If You Could See Me Now.

About The Chiaroscuro Podcast

Chiaroscuro Director of Artistry & Repertoire George Graham produces and hosts The Chiaroscuro Podcast. Explore the works of other Chiaroscuro performers in our Artists Section. Check out other episodes of the Chiaroscuro Podcast here