Lee Konitz – Motion – Verve/ Speakers Corner Records (Germany) – 180gm LP stereo (1961) [12/6/11] ****½:
(Lee Konitz, alto sax; Sonny Dallas, bass; Elvin Jones, drums)
Motion has always been one of the most popular Lee Konitz recordings, and that is saying something since Lee’s career has covered over six decades and well over one hundred recordings as a leader. He continues playing today with his talent for improvisation still strong and intact. Motion was released in the 1990s as a Verve Elite CD selection, with additional tracks incorporating Nick Stabulas on drums from earlier sessions.
However, the August 1961 session, comprising five standards, is the one to purchase as it has the original session, with the inimitable Elvin Jones on drums. Elvin shows here that he can play both softly, and at a fast tempo, giving a propulsive push to Konitz. Sonny Dallas, on bass, is rock solid, with a beat that is steady as a metronome.
“I Remember You” has Konitz going through the chord changes with his unique cool toned alto a step ahead of the bass and right along with Jones.
“All of Me” continues in the same vein, and you can imagine Lee with his eyes closed locked into an inner groove much as a poet with free association. “Foolin’ Myself” slows the pace as Elvin floats over the cymbals as Lee, more relaxed but still swinging bridges the gap between bop, and an open more free feel.
Side 2 has two extended tracks: “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and “I’ll Remember April.” Speakers Corner’s unnamed remastering engineer has done a superb job re-mixing this album as the bass is spot perfect in the mix and Elvin and Lee as expected, are “in the room” with you. On a good pair of headphones, the experience is sublime with no audible distractions- a crystal clear sound stage.
What is clear listening to Motion is how Konitz locks in with his mates. They have a musical “conversation” much like Bill Evans had with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.
It is a conversation that you will find in superb acoustics that clearly exceed any other format, whether it be the Japanese CD edition or the Verve Elite.
Side One: I’ll Remember You, All of Me, Foolin’ Myself
Side Two: You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To, I’ll Remember April
This is a delightful holiday collection.