Lee Konitz first came onto the jazz scene in the late forties as an exciting young alto saxophonist sticking his foot into the late bebop movement and exploring the possibilities of cool jazz. Since then Konitz has turned from a rising young star into one of the most influential jazz innovators of all time. On his recent album Deep Blue, Konitz teams up with the young, but dynamic trio Minsarah, to further explore the boundaries of jazz.
Right from the opening track "Invention" one can instantly recognizes Konitz’s distinct soloing style. He plays with a mellow tone and relies more on musicality than intense technical playing, the style he has become famous for over the last half century. However, what makes Deep Lee different than Konitz’s previous works is the rhythm section that he plays with, and the modern compositions that are featured on the album.
Minsarah is a trio of recent Berklee College of Music graduates. Since they have come onto the scene they have quickly gained popularity, especially in Europe. The trio consists of Florian Weber on piano, Jeff Denson on bass, and Ziv Ravitz on drums. Florian Weber accompanies the lead voice of Konitz with intriguing harmonic content. However, he also throws in interesting contrapuntal lines which add a fulfilling layer to the music. As well as Weber accompanies Konitz, he shows that he is totally capable to take over as the lead voice during the intro to album’s title track. His solos are very musical, masterfully combining complex harmonies with interesting melodic content. Jeff Denson lays down the harmonic foundation throughout the album but also showcases his soloing skills. Ravitz plays more percussion effects than solid time keeping, but that style of playing contributes to the immense musical interaction that Kontiz and Minsarah are aiming for. However, there are a few groove orientated tunes though such as Jeff Denson’s composition "As the Smoke Clears".
The overall interaction between the four musicians in the group is amazing. They are so in tuned with each other that at some points it is as if one person is playing all fours instruments. The group’s intensity level climbs at a steady pace which results in many breath taking musical climaxes.
On Deep Lee, the combination of Minsarah’s modern youthful playing with the masterful playing of Lee Konitz makes for an amazing musical experience. On this album Lee Konitz shows the world that even though he has been on the scene a while he can still be a part of new innovations.