Konitz (1988)

Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |  
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A contemporary of Charlie Parker, but with his own distinct sound, saxophonist Lee Konitz has played with and improvised with jazz greats from the late 1940s on, concentrating on his own cool alto-sax style. This documentary shows the performer with partner Harold Danko at Montreal's Palis des Arts, teaching music students at Concordia University and responding to the director's questions. At one point, Konitz plays six of his classic tunes, and then he shows off some of the unusual sounds a saxophone is capable of. The documentary also attempts to establish the performer's place in jazz history. In one particularly moving segment, Konitz discusses his lifelong love of the music and style of Louis Armstrong and shows him attempting (and failing) to duplicate on the sax the trumpet master's skill in using quarter-tone "blues" notes in the 1930 song Struttin' With Some Barbecue. Even lifelong virtuosos, it seems, have inaccessible artistic peaks to inspire them.