Lee Konitz & Sal Mosca: Kary's Trance
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Recorded: New York, February 1971
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
What do two alumni of the Lennie Tristano school do when they reunite after some years? They play a tune that conjures up memories of their master, of course. Lee Konitz and Sal Mosca initially played together in 1949 on Subconscious-Lee, Konitz's first session as a leader, and recorded "Kary's Trance" together in 1956, though not in duo, on the altoist's Very Cool. More than two decades after their first encounter, and 15 years after their first version of this song, what is left of Tristano's lessons? Obviously his two former disciples have evolved, bringing his ideas into modern times.
Mosca is more faithful than Konitz, certainly because he's a pianist and studied longer with his mentor: his percussive touch and articulation are very close to Tristano's. But his angular approach is his own, and owes a lot to Monk's vision of the keyboard. Mosca is a brilliant accompanist with a unique conception of the pulse and of the relationship between the two hands. He's also a creative improviser with a great mastery of the piano's low register, and his melodic inventiveness leads him to insert a rare quotation from Rimsky Korsakov's "Scheherazade" in his solo. His style fully deserves to be reevaluated and studied in times when people have all but forgotten him.
As for Konitz, on this tune he penned while still sometimes playing with his former master, he shows how far he's drifted from Tristano's conceptions. His linear phrasing has evolved into a flurry of twirling, broken or daring melodic lines. His sound has grown harsher, and he sometimes searches for notes so high that he's on the brink of squawking or squealing. In other words, he takes chances, and sounds freer than many a "free jazz" player of the early '70s.
Reviewer: Thierry Quénum