REVIEW Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau: Live at Birdland

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Friday May 13, 2011

From The Guardian

Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau: Live at Birdland ‘” review
By John Fordham

When pianist Mehldau, sax legend Konitz and bassist Charlie Haden got together on a 1997 Blue Note session, it not only showed how sympathetic to improvising on familiar songs all three were, but it also helped put the then little-known Mehldau on the map. They reconvene on this captivating live set ‘” totally unpremeditated, without even a setlist ‘” with Paul Motian added on drums. Konitz’s sometimes plaintive alto sound and outwardly meandering explorations can suggest a rather ascetic music for those unused to intuitively spun improv that takes a relaxed view of the integrity of famous tunes. But Mehldau’s uncanny amplification of Konitz’s phrases, and his breathtaking solos on Lullaby of Birdland, Solar, and You Stepped Out of a Dream (in which the pianist Haden and Motian sound even more of a dream team than might have been anticipated) are irresistible, as is Konitz’s imaginative distortion of the architecture of I Fall in Love Too Easily, and the classical-sounding duo rhapsody that piano and sax get into at its close. Nor is this exclusively a low-key exercise: it includes four-way up-tempo discussions that fizz with collective energy.

Read the review online here