May 18, 2004
Jazz, West Coast Jazz, Mainstream Jazz, Cool, Jazz Instrument

Album Review

Lee Konitz has long been one of the most distinctive sounding alto saxophonists in jazz, with a cool yet dry tone. He guests with the Mark Masters Ensemble on this 2002 studio session, which concentrates on Masters' arrangements of his originals, many of which are based upon standards. The guest is the primary soloist, though each member of the big band is featured at some point. "Thingin'," Konitz's well-known reworking of "All the Things You Are," features its composer, trumpeter Steve Huffstetter, and pianist Cecilia Coleman. "Dream Stepper" (based on "You Stepped Out of a Dream") features terrific interplay between Konitz and fellow alto saxophonist Gary Foster. The intricate "317 East 32nd Street," a brilliant piece inspired by "Out of Nowhere," finds Konitz in a humorous mood. Konitz is the lone soloist in the one outright standard of the date, which incorporates his orchestrated solo from a 1953 recording with Gerry Mulligan. The finale, "Palo Alto," begins with a pulsing rhythm before taking off into an adventurous, demanding chart which the musicians interpret flawlessly. Lee Konitz had high praise for Mark Masters' scoring of his works, and the obvious pleasure had by everyone involved in the making of this recording is readily apparent to the listener.
Ken Dryden, Rovi