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One Day with Lee by Mark Masters Ensemble with Lee Konitz

This CD from Mark Masters & Lee Konitz is full of excellent playing and clever ideas. Konitz has recorded several legendary dates with large and big bands through the years, so putting him in front of the fifteen piece Mark Masters Ensemble seems auspicious. The seven songs featured on the date are all either songs written by Konitz or famously recorded by him; "317 East 32nd Street" and "Lover Man" feature Masters' arrangements of Lee Konitz's solos from early '50s recordings, another inspired touch.

The Mark Masters Ensemble features several excellent west coast musicians, including bassist Putter Smith, drummer Kendall Kay and Gary Foster, whose alto saxophone playing is indebted to that of the master Konitz. The CD opens with "Thingin'," Konitz playing unaccompanied for the first minute before the band falls in behind. Konitz retains his signature sound, a sax that is cool and dry but not cold. Konitz solos with style and invention throughout, and the other players distinguish themselves also. Foster's exchanges with Konitz are the highlight of "317 East 32nd Street," "Gundula" is highlighted by a great solo from Smith, and pianist Cecilia Coleman holds everything together and shines on her solo turns.

One Day with Lee is a rewarding listen, matching excellent individual performances with intricate and smart big band arrangements. Masters' orchestrations of Konitz early solos make an interesting contrast with his mature playing and seem to inspire the altoist's new explorations. Likewise, the presence of the sax great seems to bring the best out of Foster, Kay and the rest of the group. Konitz, in his seventh decade of recording, re-records seven of his classics here, breathing new life into each one.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mark Masters Ensemble with Lee Konitz
  • CD Title: One Day with Lee
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Capri Records Ltd.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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