Lee Konitz & Bill Connors: Tavia
Recorded: New York, June 11, 1977
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Although Lee Konitz plays the soprano sax on this track, his sound and his phrasing are nonetheless immediately recognizable. He'd started playing the straight horn on record the previous year with his Nonet, and doesn't use it in the same way as most tenorists who double on the smaller instrument. Like the tenor sax, the soprano is pitched in the key of B-flat, whereas the alto is an E-flat instrument, so few altoists (at least in those days ) doubled on soprano. But in the late '70s, Konitz played the soprano mostly for color and, in the context of a duo with an acoustic guitar as on this track, did so most efficiently. This song, penned by the reedman for this session, is essentially about melody. The soprano's fragile yet firm tone fits perfectly with the chords that Bill Connors strums on his guitar beside him. There is no real improvisation, except when the guitar is alone and launches a solo that brings more dynamism to the tune, while respecting its elegiac atmosphere. When Konitz returns the song to its original slow pace, his sound is so rich and dense that there's no feeling of entropy. His soprano is really a voice and, soft as it may be, it's hard to remain indifferent to what that voice has to say.
Reviewer: Thierry Quénum