Lee Konitz continues to maintain his role as a true icon and legend of innovation within the Jazz community despite his already established and laudable involvement in the genre spanning six decades and producing over 50 records to date. On his Chesky Records debut entitled Parallels, Lee proves once again his unique improvisational ability by infusing his alto saxophone lines into the solid framework constructed by his quintet featuring Bill Goodwin on drums, Peter Bernstein on guitar, Steve Gilmore on bass and special guest Mark Turner on tenor saxophone.
Parallels, a collection of Lee's interpretations of standard Jazz cuts and original compositions as fresh as his groundbreaking work in the 50's and 60's stands as clear evidence of his desire to examine the organic nature of Jazz and all of the opportunities to present spontaneous creativity and artistry to the listener. Lee Konitz has always been an artist who has defined his own terms of playing, even when surrounded by influences that seemed to sway the masses within the Jazz community, and his ability to define himself and a style is in full force on this, a strong representation of West Coast-influenced straight ahead and cool Jazz.
Born in Chicago in 1927, Konitz began his musical odyssey studying the clarinet in the Classical idiom before transferring his talents to the alto saxophone and the improvisational world of Jazz. By the mid 1940's, while still in his twenties, Lee began playing with Jerry Wald and later the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, where his solo style began to grab the attention of concertgoers. It was soon after his involvement with Thornhill that Lee Konitz began his very influential study with Lennie Tristano, who expedited Lee's already quickly developing unique improvisational style.
In 1948, Konitz had the opportunity to be involved in and contribute his constantly growing abilities to the Birth of the Cool sessions with Miles Davis, an opportunity that would forever influence the Jazz world and Lee's playing. Proving that he would not be pushed into a box and labeled for his past work, Lee returned to working with Lennie Tristano in 1949 to perform the first two free improvisations ever recorded in a Post-Bop climate not particularly open to the yet-to-be-named sect of Free Jazz. After honing his cool sax sound in the early 1950's touring with Stan Kenton's Orchestra, Lee decided it was time to take the reigns of creative artistry and began leading his own Jazz ensembles. From that point on, he has been recording feverishly in the styles of Bop, Cool and Free Jazz in addition to dedicating himself to the education of other musicians.
In 1992, Lee Konitz was awarded the Jazzpar prize for his work and contribution within and for the art of Jazz. Recently, Lee returned to his Classical roots in performing French Impressionist Music from the 20th Century with the Axis String Quartet, and now makes the transition once again to offering his extraordinary talents to the world of Jazz with Parallels. Lee's performance on Parallels and desire to represent the raw, spontaneous energy of a pure Jazz experience is complimented by Chesky's recording philosophy of recreating a live event with the greatest accuracy possible. Lee Konitz could be considered one of the most influential living Jazz pioneers and innovators. With Parallels, he proves that he is.