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Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art (Jazz Perspectives) Paperback – August 8, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Meticulously researched, detailed and documented this long awaited overview justly establishes Konitz as one of the most consistently brilliant, adventurous and original improvisers in the jazz tradition - a genius as rare as Bird himself." - John Zorn "Experiencing the music of Lee Konitz in the flesh and in different settings is a reminder of what a unique musician he is. This is an equally unique book which, by contrast with some as-told-to autobiographies, beneficially lays bare the subject's thought processes, thanks to the skillful interviewing of Andy Hamilton." - Brian Priestley, author of Chasin' the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker and co-author of The Rough Guide to Jazz"

About the Author

Andy Hamilton is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Durham University, and a frequent contributor to jazz magazines both in the US and abroad. This project originally grew out of interviews with Konitz for The Wire and Jazz Review. Hamilton is also at work on a book on music and aesthetics, and is an amateur jazz pianist and singer.
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Product Details

  • Series: Jazz Perspectives
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (August 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472032178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472032174
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lawrence Kart on November 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am, briefly (on pages 164-5), a contributor to his book -- the author interviewed me several years ago about my feelings about Konitz, a longtime favorite of mine -- but the comments that follow, which I sent in an e-mail to the author, Andy Hamilton, a month or more ago, are ones that I would have made even if I had played no role in this book other than the minor one I did:

"Got it [the book] the other day and devoured it. You and Lee did a superb job, and as someone who used to be a journalist, I don't underestimate your contribution in terms of sound and creative organization of material, consistent attentiveness, ability to get along with/stimulate Lee, ability to set up and conduct intelligent interviews with all those other people, etc. I'm pretty sure there's no other book like it in jazz, and while some of that has to do with Lee's willingness to talk about things as much as and in the ways that he does, without your hard work and imagination and good heart, we wouldn't have this. Many thanks."

Larry Kart
Author of "Jazz In Search of Itself" (Yale University Press)
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Format: Paperback
In this book of lively conversations on the improviser's art, Lee Konitz talks about all aspects of his music, from his beginnings (as a student of the clarinet, during the late 1930s) to the early years of the new century, and he does so with great candour. There's lots about the Cool School of playing and Konitz's musical mentor, the blind pianist Lennie Tristano. Tristano's music ran on a parallel track to bebop, but because it wasn't such a hot, sweaty affair it's been dismissed as a pallid version of the real thing, cerebral and abstract, disconnected from feelings, a music to be analysed by beard-strokers rather than enjoyed by foot-tappers. Konitz dismisses these false distinctions and emphasises both the vitality and originality of Tristano's music - points supported by several musician-contributors to the book.

The criticisms and comments that Konitz offers are frank, thoughtful and well-argued. Several of the chapters cover specific decades in his career. Others include: Formative Influences; Working with Tristano; Early Collaborators; The Art of Improvisation; The Instrument; The Material. Embedded within each of the chapters is a series of brief interviews with musicians, most of whom have worked on the bandstand with Konitz or recorded with him, including John Zorn, Phil Woods, Mike Zwerin, George Russell, Clare Fischer, Sal Mosca, Alan Broadbent, Sonny Rollins, Rufus Reid, Ornette Coleman, Harold Danko, Wayne Shorter, Paul Bley, John Tchicai, Greg Osby, Martial Solal and Evan Parker. Although this is fundamentally a book of interviews, Andy Hamilton provides scene-setting introductions to each of the chapters, explanatory links between subsections, and brief comments that help the reader better to contextualise the interview material.
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Format: Paperback
I read Andy Hamilton's book on Lee Konitz recently and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it.

I think the idea of including interviews from some of the musicians who worked with him made it a very interesting read...in addition to being very well written.

And even though I have known Lee since 1948 I still learned a lot of things I didn't know before.

The author must have spent many years with him in order to accomplish that. Congratulations to him!!

Ted Brown
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Format: Paperback
Your Konitz book is really fabulous!!! Your last comment was
correct, it is a major addition to the literature. The way you
organized it makes it easy to read, and there's so much historical
information, as well as, a real look into Lee's thinking and approach to
life and music. I was truly hooked after the first chapter and just couldn't put it down. Andy, you really earned five stars for this one.
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Format: Paperback
At the end of this book, author Andy Hamilton reassures Konitz that it will become a classic of jazz literature. I guess Hamilton was speaking at least half tongue-in-cheek, but, for what it's worth, I also think he's probably right.

As it's been said elsewhere, the author's editorial prowess is phenomenal, and the proof is that the book is extremely easy to read, while, at the same time, it is packed with information and insight. Hamilton has also been able to engage Konitz in some interesting discussions, like his views on several musicians - Anthony Braxton, most memorably - or his assessment of his own playing, and on the actual physical and psychological aspects of the process of improvising music.

This is pretty close to my ideal book on a jazz musician, where the subject has the chance to tell his story while speaking freely to a knowledgeable counterpart.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Despite Lee Konitz's illustrious career, there had not been a book-length treatment of his music and life until Andy Hamilton's book appeared. There have been numerous published interviews with him, but none is as informative, thorough, or enlightening as this book. Considering that Mr. Konitz is much better known in other countries than in the U.S., it is no wonder that an Englishman decided to write a book on him. One of the things that I liked about the book is that the artist got involved in the process, for example, proofreading the text himself. This lends a high degree of authenticity to the book. In addition to the interviews with Mr. Konitz, there are a number of shorter interviews with other musicians, which are also intriguing. This is an exciting and enjoyable book and I highly recommend it.
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