Legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz and the late bassist Charlie Haden teamed up with pianist Brad Mehldau for this delightful double album, recorded in five live sets - two as a duo and three as a trio - in Los Angeles in 1996.
"My favorite drumless album of all time," one YouTube commentator quipped about this appealing two-album set, recently released on vinyl.
There is a dreamy, lyrical air to many of the tunes, and on things like Round Midnight, Konitz, then aged 70, is gracefully foregrounded. The others tread lightly in the background, in a a ruminative air of togetherness in the course of evenings of what what might be termed 'relaxed bop.' Not a hint of Christmas, incidentally - and proper order that - even though the performances took place on December 21 and 22 at LA's Jazz Bakery.
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These are long, leisurely interpretations of classics from the Great American Songbook, the lengthiest being the title track at 13:49 while the shortest is Cherokee at 10:59, once reworked by Charlie Parker under the title Koko.
Aside from Alone Together, there are inventive readings of The Song Is You (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) the aforementioned Cherokee, (Ray Noble), What Is This Thing Called Love? (Cole Porter) Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams) and You Stepped Out of a Dream (Nacio Herb Brown, Gus Kahn).
So what is the secret to making something new out of old standards? "Thinking that I've never played it before," says Konitz, who is now a venerable 92. "My goal is still to listen to who I'm playing with and try to react. That's the fun of improvising, that's what keeps it fresh and interesting."