Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz is among only a handful of living musicians who have had the most significant influence on jazz's post-war direction. Lee was responsible for cool jazz starting in late 1948—a style that was more highly improvised than bebop and was played by saxophonists at the higher end of the instrument's register. Saxophonists Frankie Trumbauer in the 1930s and Lester Young in the 1940s influenced Lee's sound. In turn, Lee (and tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh) influenced West Coast jazz of the '50s and free jazz of the '60s.
In today's Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the paper), I interview Lee about cool jazz and the 65th anniversary of the first public performance of the Miles Davis Nonet, which later became known as the "Birth of the Cool" band. Lee was a member of the nonet as well as the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, which Lee says was the true influence of the Miles Davis Nonet. His cool jazz style and approach was completely different, he says. "I've often been mistaken for a West Coast jazz artist, but I'm not," Konitz told me over breakfast. "Most of them really didn't create much of anything new." [Photo above of Lee Konitz by Terry Cryer]
More in today's paper.
JazzWax clip: Here's Wow and Marionette, two cool jazz classics from 1949...