It’s no secret that Lee Konitz is one of my favorite musicians and saxophonists.¬† It’s amazing that he’s now well into his 80’s and still going strong.¬† This post contains a Downbeat article from January 1980 and 4 transcriptions I did in the not so distant past.¬† There is also a discussion here of his very nice solo on Billie’s Bounce.
Billie’s Bounce from Very Cool, Verve 1958
For over 50 years now Lee Konitz has displayed a unique alto saxophone style that is loved the world over.¬† It is no secret that Lee learned Charlie Parker solo’s in his studies with Lennie Tristano; Lee obviously knew Bird’s Billie’s Bounce solo well as he and Warne have been recorded playing the solo verbatim.¬† So it’s very interesting to see his four chorus solo statement here written out.¬† This is a well executed solo that includes some simple yet interesting harmonic ideas.¬† Notice how pretty Lee’s sound is, and how he never forces the sound nor overstates his melodic ideas.
The figure in bar three of this chorus is a nice intervalic gesture that incorporates the major 9 and 6 of the D7 chord before landing squarely on the minor 7th, which then logically resolves to the 3rd of the G7 in bar 5 of the chorus.¬† He then ascends to the 7th of the G7, works his way through the D7 to the turnaround, clearing spelling out the B7 in bar 8, then plays a nice little shape that includes the major 6 and 9 of the A7, and the major 6th of the D7.¬† Notice the use of space in the chorus as well.
Notice the use of neighbor tones over the D7 in bar three of this chorus.¬† He implies the D7b9 in bar 4, and again we see the major 6 being emphasized in bar 6 against the G7.¬† Notice how he squarely lands on the D# of the A7 in bar 10, the #11 of that chord.
A nice imitative phrase begins this chorus in bars 1 and 2, notice again the neighbor tones in bar 5 that precede the b natural in bar 6.¬† He works his way through the D7 in bar 7, again hitting the 6th and 9th, and then clearly works his way to the b9, the B flat, against the A7 in bar 10.
A cool descending shape is presented here, which begins with the pickups to this chorus.¬† Notice how this phrase touches the high C, then grabs the B on beat four of bar one, then hits the A and G in bar two, and then concludes with the F# on the downbeat of bar three before landing on the C, the 7th of the D7.¬† Again there are some nice intervals chosen here, look how the line is not really linear but moves about, with a couple of fifths present, the expansion of the major third to a forth in bar 8, and the leap of a major 6th in bar 10 from the A to the F# and back again in the same bar.
Aspiring improviser’s can learn a lot from a simple yet elegant solo like this from a master such as Lee Konitz.¬† This is a classic solo that should be learned note for note back from the recording, and etched into the memory banks.¬† There is much to absorb from a solo such as this.¬† As Lee likes to say‚Ä¶..”These are our etudes‚Ä¶‚Ä¶”
There Will Never Be Another You/There Will Never Be
When You’re Smiling/When You’re Smiling