Lee Konitz Trio at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

by Rob Adams, The Herald
June 30, 2008

Lee Konitz was never likely to give Glasgow Jazz Festival 2008 a mighty send-off. Working in a trio with piano and bass, the alto saxophonist who was in at the Birth of the Cool presented a quietly considered, conversational session of tunes he'll have played countless times, although with the exception of the opener, Alone Together, he didn't extend the conversation to share those tunes' names.

This was partly because the three musicians were deciding what to play on the hoof, taking turns to choose from a list of possibles, which Konitz held up for the benefit of those with telescopic vision, and lead off.

At 80, Konitz obviously prefers to let the saxophone do his talking, and it does. He still plays with a kind of dry elegance, shaping solos that stay close to the chord changes even if their relationship to the actual melody, as with Body and Soul, isn't always obvious. His colleagues, the professorial Frank Wunsch on piano and Henning Galling on double bass, stayed close to the plot, supporting Konitz discreetly and soloing at a measured pace.

After some 50 minutes, Konitz gestured that he was out of puff and waved farewell, although he returned for an amiable amble through What's New? - a question that, earlier in the Recital Room upstairs, trumpeter Ryan Quigley's sextet had answered emphatically with a CD launch. Laphroaig-ian Slip, Quigley's recording debut, isn't so much being released as bustin' out like Jesse James on a bank job and the sextet celebrated its full-blooded, tightly arranged and dashed catchy tunes with brilliantly focused creativity and intoxicating vigour.