Category: Konitz, Lee

Three 1976 Lee Konitz interviews

LeeKonitzToday, three 1976 interviews with the great altoist Lee Konitz. I could listen to Konitz talk about playing with Miles and studying with Lennie Tristano all day! In addition to those topics, The iconic saxophonist discusses his early days in Chicago, Chet Baker, teaching, the jazz scene in Europe, and plenty more, From the first interview, about Tristano:

Well I’d studied with Lennie earlier, actually – when I was fifteen, in Chicago. One of the great things I learned was: how much of a discipline this music calls for. And that it’s possible, through picking important people and learning as much as possible about them, to go through the motions of playing this music. As with any art form, I think you try to go through the motion. You find out what it’s like to paint like Van Gogh, play like Charlie Parker, and then, if it’s possible, you go on, use that energy and that information, and do something of your own with it. If not, at least you’ve had that experience.

Click here to read Interview One: Speaks His Mind

Click here to read Interview Two: On Jazz Form

Click here to read Interview Three: Looking at the Scene

—Peter Blasevick

Lee Konitz on working in the trio format and the importance of a good drummer

Jon Solomon interviewed the great alto man Lee Konitz for the Denver Westword blog last week. Konitz talks about recent gigs, free jazz, Charlie Parker, and more. From the interview:

How important is playing with a good drummer to you?

As with any of the instruments in the rhythm section, it’s vitally important. The drummer, since he’s not using notes so to speak unless he tunes his drums carefully, is probably… Well, I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say right now. Because of the lack of notes, the rhythm is more important and things like that.

Click here to read Lee Konitz on working in the trio format and the importance of a good drummer

A 2001 DownBeat Profile of Lee Konitz

Another interesting Ted Panken interview. Today is a fascinating 2001 interview with the great Lee Konitz. The legendary alto saxophonist and Cool Jazz pioneer talks about his career and life, including this great bit about seeing Ornette Coleman:

“I remember going with Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh to hear him at the Five Spot one night, and not really knowing what to make of it. Ornette came up and asked me if I wanted to sit in. I said, ‘What do we play?’ or something like that, and somehow I guess I didn’t sound like I really wanted to sit in, so he didn’t pursue it. Sorry I didn’t. At that time, like a lot of people, I was resenting somehow this fact that he was eliminating everything that I’d spent my years trying to hone. But I gradually got over resenting it. Ornette’s concept is extraordinarily inventive and original, and of course had a great influence on a lot of the music’s development. He tried to explain some of the harmolodic theory on an airplane flight when we were sitting together. I said, ‘Wait til we get down on the ground, please.’ I really said that, because it’s so subjective that I didn’t want to face it up in the air. I never really learned his tunes. I’m too busy playing ‘All the Things You Are.’ By Jerome Kern. That guy must be turning over!”

Click here to read A 2001 DownBeat Profile of Lee Konitz

Lee Konitz: A Q&A by Ethan Iverson

Here is  a nice long 2011 JazzTimes interview with the great alto Lee Konitz discussing his newest release Live at Birdland with Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian along with plenty of other topics.

Click here to read Lee Konitz: A Q&A by Ethan Iverson