Lee Konitz & Red Mitchell: Just One of Those Things
Just One of Those Things
I Concentrate On You (SteepleChase)
Recorded: Copenhagen, Denmark, July 30, 1974
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Is it because Red Mitchell tuned his bass like a cello that it has this huge, elastic bouncing feel while he plays a 7-second opening romp before Lee Konitz enters? Then the bassist carries on playing the same efficient rhythmic pattern, as the altoist exposes the melody. Actually, all along the tune, Mitchell provides an original harmonic and rhythmic support, allowing his partner to explore the tune's chord changes with great freedom. Everything the alto plays is phrased in a rhythmically inventive manner, as Konitz winds his way through the harmonic pattern, creating new melodic segments every couple of seconds. This is exactly the opposite of "vertical" improvisation based on knowing all the scales and licks that can be used on each chord, but that often neglects to combine notes to tell a story.
Lee Konitz is a master of harmony, but never forgets the lessons of his idols Louis Armstrong and Lester Young, or of his master Lennie Tristano: the song comes first. Backed by such a strong musician as Mitchell, who plays few notes yet with maximum effect, making his bass sound like a low-register guitar, the altoist is ideally situated to display his art. At the time of this recording, Konitz had let various fashions like hard bop, free jazz or jazz-rock pass by without giving them a glance. Yet his own style had evolved during those decades, following nothing but its own momentum, to the point where he could now carve this little timeless gem and rejuvenate 10 other pieces from the Cole Porter songbook with stunning candor and freshness.
Reviewer: Thierry Quénum