Lee Konitz: Thanks For The Memory


Thanks For The Memory


Lee Konitz (tenor sax)


Tenorlee (Candid CHCD 71019)

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Lee Konitz (tenor sax), Jimmy Rowles (piano),

Michael Moore (bass)


Composed by Ralph Rainger & Leo Robin


Recorded: New York, July 24, 1977


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

For Americans of my generation, "Thanks For The Memory" is the song Bob Hope sang at the end of his TV shows, usually after cavorting for an hour or two in unfunny comic skits with second-tier '70s celebs like Joey Heatherton or Tom Jones. Jazz fans my age also know the tune from Wayne Shorter's wonderful, corrosively abstract solo tenor version on Weather Report's live 8:30 album. For some reason, the song has not been an especially popular vehicle with jazz improvisers. (Could it be the Hope connection? Perhaps. His persona was, after all, the antithesis of hip.)

Lee Konitz makes gold out of the tune on this trio version, eschewing his usual alto saxophone for tenor—one of the few occasions in his career he recorded on the larger horn. Once one gets used to Konitz's tenor sounding like a 33 1/3-rpm version of his 78-rpm alto tone, it's easy to recognize his style. Konitz's delicate manner of articulation is little commented upon, yet it's a critical component of his sound. His attack seems cushioned, without the percussive, plosive aspect possessed by a great many if not most saxophonists. It contributes greatly to the "human" aspect of his sound, all the more pronounced here thanks to the tenor's lower register.

Pianist Jimmy Rowles, a dyed-in-the-wool bopper of the first order, ably abets Konitz. Witty and exceptionally swinging, his accompaniment gently goads the saxophonist, while his brief solo adds an element of playfulness. Bassist Michael Moore doesn't solo, but supports Konitz and Rowles well. He knows what goes where and why. Together, the trio subverts the geeky legacy of a perfectly good old tune. I'm sure Bob wouldn't mind.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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