Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock, Joey Baron – Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note – Half Note 4552 – June 4-5, 2011, 60:29 ***½:
(Lee Konitz, alto sax; Bill Frisell, guitar; Gary Peacock, bass; Joey Baron, drums)
Fans of cerebral jazz will appreciate the group effort of four veteran jazz masters re-exploring six jazz standards in front of an appreciative audience at New York’s fabled Blue Note nightclub. Collectively the experience of these four gentlemen (especially octogenarian alto saxist, Lee Konitz) spans several jazz generations.
By choosing well-known jazz standards, both the live audience and those listening on this new CD can decipher the changes the quartet brings out in comparison to more standard jazz fare.
There is a sense of communication, on the spot, as expected by musicians who are so noted for their improvisational skills. They could play the standard changes in their sleep, but with Konitz and especially Frisell doing front line duty, everyone has to be on their “A” game.
While I miss more of a sense of “swing” than I found on this CD, I did find that it was Bill Frisell, who most seemed to stir the pot, and inspire the most passionate playing from Konitz.
It is Joey Baron, however, on “What is This Thing Called Love,” who lights the initial fuse that first Lee and then Bill explore. Gary Peacock steps up on the quieter passages and makes his presence felt. Baron, again sets the tone on “Body and Soul” that Frisell picks up on. Lee then enters with the familiar theme done at a leisurely pace (maybe a little too leisurely for my taste as I craved a bit more emotion a la Ben Webster or Coleman Hawkins, especially for a twelve-minute track…)
“Stella By Starlight” is a feature primarily for Konitz, and I appreciated the ensemble backing that the rhythm section provided behind Lee’s emoting. Frisell’s inventive lines here are memorable. Again Peacock shows his bass prowess with muscular finger plucking.
“I’ll Remember April” has Frisell’s vibrato holding notes in a warm fashion. Konitz begins a counterpoint with Bill that makes this the most interesting track on the CD for me.
“I Can’t Get Started” closes out the CD with an extended Peacock solo that lasts two minutes, before Bill and Lee begin their lyrical “communication.”
The acoustics on this live CD are exemplary and credit goes to Steve Remote for making this on-location recording sound like it was recorded in a state of the art recording studio.
For introspective late night listening, Enfants Terribles fits the bill nicely.
TrackList: What is This Thing Called Love, Body and Soul, Stella By Starlight, I’ll Remember April, I Remember You, I Can’t Get Started
Pure Pleasure Records releases a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of this late jazz icon.