Friday 20 May 2011

Interview with Lee Konitz in JazzTimes

Interesting interview of Lee Konitz by Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus in JazzTimes. Lee is promoting the new recording with Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. I'll be looking out for it. Here are a few extracts.
Ethan on how Brad Mehldau levitates above the harmony
Ethan: I’ve heard a lot of Brad over the years, so I know what he is capable of. On this record he’s levitating above the harmony almost constantly and in a fascinating way. 
Lee: Can I interview you? How would you describe that?
Ethan: I think that Brad is very comfortable with the original harmony so that he can overlay, not just one degree away from the harmony and form, but two or three degrees away from the form. For example, suppose you’re playing in D-minor. Brad is comfortable not just playing in E-minor, but perhaps in F-sharp-minor and perhaps both at the same time, even though it’s still really D-minor. That may be b.s. though.
Lee: I’m sure it’s one of the possibilities. I just wonder how many of these possibilities are clearly outlined as possibilities or if he’s intuiting into that so ingeniously. It’s a combination of both, of course.
How Lee warms up the band before a gig
Ethan: I was really impressed when we played a gig together in Pori [Finland] last year. Before the gig you invited the band to your hotel room to sing and tap together. I’ve seldom been with other musicians who took warming up for the gig that seriously. 
What's the intention of Lee's soloing?
Ethan: Is it a conscious decision for you how much abstraction or newness you’re going to put into an interpretation when you start? It’s very different to play the melody of a ballad or play very out on it, as you know.
Lee: I usually start out with the hope that it will go in a new direction. When it doesn’t, I try to make the notes as meaningful as possible. That means for me playing less to start out with. That has proven very effective for me.
On slowing down great solos
Lee: I have one of these little dictation machines, a $49 machine with digital pitch control and a bunch of tracks. I have Lester Young solos, Wayne Shorter solos from Live at the Plugged Nickel, some Jamey Aebersold records, some Warne Marsh. I can listen to it at the different speeds. I haven’t had that facility because I don’t use a computer. 
Ethan: It’s fun to hear those solos slowed down, isn’t it? You can hear what the notes are, finally. What I find amazing with people like Lester Young or Warne Marsh, is that even when you take their fast lines and slow them down, it sounds swinging—it’s still so rhythmically accurate.
Lee: They somehow slowed it down in their learning of the lines, and they’ve gradually sped it up as they felt each note. I think that’s the process. 

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