Lee Konitz Trio With Peggy Stern | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lee Konitz Trio With Peggy Stern 

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Chicago-born altoist Lee Konitz is the King Lear of jazz--not because of loveless daughters or lost eyesight, but because of the way he has continued to peel away the onion layers to find the essence of his music. In the 40s, when the 22-year-old Konitz made his first recordings with Lennie Tristano, he displayed a real if diffident virtuosity in his mastery of Tristano's quicksilver melodies. (Of all Charlie Parker's contemporaries, only Konitz was able to carve out a nonderivative style, and his virtuosity validated his vision.) Tristano's music constituted the first jazz minimalism, consciously downplaying the very elements that the beboppers glorified, such as dynamics, rhythmic diversity, and the hegemony of the soloist. And in the subsequent decades Konitz has carried the cool torch and become the ultimate minimalist: he has progressively stripped away the skimming speed of his solo lines and the smooth polish of his tone to arrive at a brave voice deceptive in its simplicity and beholden to only his own cliches. His current sojourn introduces Chicago audiences to pianist and composer Peggy Stern, who did most of the writing for their new album (a Soul Note CD with the wordplay title Lunasea); to top it off, they're performing in the unusual format of a drumless trio, with bassist Larry Gray along to provide the rhythmic fulcrum. Friday through Sunday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

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