Three musicians – five standards – 1961 – Motion! You can’t get much more efficiency than that! But that was always one of Lee Konitz’s greatest strengths. Back in the 50s and 60s, the man from Chicago determined the course of European jazz perhaps more than anyone else and has remained a shining example right up to the present day. His talent for improvisation – free after Johann Sebastian Bach – and his clear melodic lines have fascinated and influenced numerous musicians ever since.
In this recording, made in August 1961, the fast tempi are a big surprise but the trio finds itself in safe hands with Elvin Jones’s drive. The drummer found the time to offer his own special beat elsewhere between his appearances with the John Coltrane Quartet in Newport and performances with the Village Vanguard in November.
The bass player Sonny Dallas, who like Lee Konitz had learned a great deal from Lennie Tristano, kept the music pulsating with the precision of a metronome throughout all the improvisations, and his almost mechanical precision made him an ideal partner.
All five numbers are old friends and often heard – but surely never as eloquently and interestingly interpreted as in this recording. In 1995, Lee Konitz told the present writer that he was planning a new session with Elvin Jones. This idea came to nothing due to the opposition of Elvin’s wife and later the drummer’s death. And so these numbers from 1961 remain the only recording of this extraordinary trio and as such constitute an important part of jazz history.