Alto Saxophonist Lee Konitz has enjoyed one of the most creative and prolific careers in modern jazz. After an early experience with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra and Stan Kenton’s Orchestra, innovative small groups of pianist Lennie Tristano, and the Miles Davis Capitol Orchestra ("Birth of the Cool"), Konitz turned freelance and has remained on the cutting edge of post-bop improvisation ever since.
He has occasionally led a nonet (now resurrected!) and various quartets, but his exceptionally large and varied discography also includes an early unaccompanied saxophone solo album, several innovative albums of duet that spanned jazz styles, and collaborations which reads like the "who’s who” of the Jazz world. Lee Konitz is the only still active musician to have played all three ever excisting Birdland clubs in New York City.
Like Gil Evans or Coleman Hawkins Lee has always been open and interested to play with younger musicans and to participate in exciting new musical projects co-lead by them (like the Lee Konitz New Nonet or the Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor String Project). A new book about Lee Konitz (by Andy Hamilton) was published in 2007. He has received the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2009.
Recently Lee Konitz has performed in a duo setting with pianist Dan Tepfer and his New Quartet, followed by a CD released with Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and the late Paul Motian. In 2012 another quartet constellation featuring Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron has emerged.
Lee was voted "Alto Saxophonist of the Year" by Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll in 2010 and numerous times before that. In July 2013 he was awarded the "German Jazz Prize" for his life in music.