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Ethan Iverson & Lee Konitz — Costumes Are Mandatory (2013)

 Ethan Iverson & Lee Konitz — Costumes Are Mandatory (2013)

USA Flag    Ethan Iverson & Lee Konitz — Costumes Are Mandatory
Ξ•  Pianist who balances classical, jazz, and avant-garde influences.
Ξ•  A prolific jazz alto and an influential stylist for his dry, cerebral, subdued approach.
Ξ•  All in all Costumes Are Mandatory is a wonderful body of music that more than makes up for some of its rough spots by offering moments of unvarnished beauty from a marvelously supple group of musicians and magical playing by Mr. Konitz, a living legend of his craft. — Ralph A. Miriello
Ethan born: February 11, 1973 in Menomonie, WISCONSIN
Lee born: October 13, 1927 in Chicago, ILLINOIS
Location: New York
Album release: July 23, 2013
Recording date: August, 2012
Record Album: HighNote Records
Catalog: #HCD 7249
Duration:     56:12
Tracks:
01. Blueberry Ice Cream     3:24
02. Try a Little Tenderness     7:03
03. It's You (Tempo Complex)     1:06
04. It's You     4:54
05. What's New     5:34
06. 317 East 32nd     4:48
07. Body and Soul     5:50
08. Blueberry Hill     4:43
09. A Distant Bell     2:02
10. Bats     2:13
11. Mr. Bumi     1:19
12. My New Lovers All Seem So Tame     2:37
13. My Old Flame     7:05
14. Blueberry Ice Cream     3:34
CREDITS:
•   Kevin Blackler  Mastering Engineer
•   Jimmy Campbell  Composer
•   Reg Connelly  Composer
•   Sam Coslow  Composer
•   Frank Eyton  Composer
•   Joe Fields  Executive Producer
•   Johnny Green  Composer
•   Larry Grenadier  Bass
•   Bob Haggart  Composer
•   Edward Heyman  Composer
•   Ethan Iverson  Composer, Liner Notes, Piano, Producer
•   Arthur Johnston  Composer
•   Lee Konitz  Composer, Sax (Alto), Vocals
•   Al Lewis  Composer
•   Pete Rende  Engineer, Mixing
•   John Rogers  Photography
•   Vincent Rose  Composer
•   Jorge Rossy  Drums
•   Robert Sour  Composer
•   Larry Stock  Composer
•   Harry Woods  Composer
•   Julie Worden  Cover Photo
•   Brad Wrolstad  Design
Personnel:
•   Ethan Iverson: piano
•   Lee Konitz: alto saxophone, vocals (track 13)
•   Larry Grenadier: bass
•   Jorge Rossy: drums
Description:
•   Lee Konitz, now 85 years young, began his career in the wake of Charlie Parker but after mentoring by Lennie Tristano and recording with Warne Marsh, he became arguably the only saxophonist to offer an alternative to Bird's overwhelming influence at the time. The 1949 recording, Intuition, under Tristano's leadership, found the three men defining "free jazz" a full decade before the term was coined. It is not surprising then that free-thinking and improvising Konitz would gravitate to the post-modern sensibilities of Ethan Iverson, best known as the pianist in The Bad Plus and a composer of extremely wide range and versatility. Together with Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy they offer a wildly creative set list where past and present combine to teeter on the edge of the future, where new compositions traverse unexplored soundscapes and standards are deconstructed only to be reassembled in a way which challenges preconceived notions of how a tune"should go."
Highnote Records
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REVIEW
By GREG SIMMONS; published: January 3, 2014
Ξ•   Costumes Are Mandatory is very collegially advertised as a collaborative album featuring Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier, and Jorge Rossy. And while the music may indeed be collaborative, even multi-improvisational at times, it's Iverson's date and he's very clearly the leader.
Ξ•  The record is envisioned as an homage to — "a dialogue with," according to the liner notes — the late blind pianist Lennie Tristano, who in addition to generally being credited as a founder of the 'cool school' (an oversimplification, to be sure), and an early avant-garde pioneer, was also a primary teacher and influence on Konitz (as well as tenorist Warne Marsh). Though he is often thought of as being a somewhat separate musical line from bebop, he was nonetheless a great admirer of Charlie Parker, playing on many of Bird's early recordings in the late 1940s, and later serving as a pallbearer in his funeral. Strangely, given its stated intent, there isn't a single composition credited to Tristano on the record.
Ξ•  Iverson is well represented though, opening with his "Blueberry Ice Cream take 2" a relatively conventional blues with a quick walking bass line and catchy melody. The direct connection to Tristano is, of course, Konitz who's own playing in recent years has become freer, with very little melodic structure. Iverson lays out for Konitz' compact solo which has an airiness to it that floats above the straight-ahead structure of the tune. Iverson's piano work is, in places, more reminiscent of Thelonious Monk than Tristano.
Ξ•  The intro to "Try A Little Tenderness" is very reminiscent of Tristano's melancholy "Requiem" featuring broad, well- sustained chords before Konitz and the rhythm section rejoin with the melody. Konitz' straight ahead statement of the tune is uncharacteristic of much of his recent playing, and he barely deviates at all leaving the improvisation to Iverson.
Ξ•  "It's You (Tempo Complex)" pulls a Tristano trick right out of the hat by overdubbing two pianos to psychedelic, effect. At only one minute long it's enough to convey the effect without overpowering the surrounding tracks. The following straight acoustic version of the song delivers some of Konitz' best most Konitz-like improvisations: loose and searching, endlessly inventive, but still melodic and delightful.
Ξ•  According to the liner notes Konitz declined to play on "Blueberry Hill" stating "Sounds like something The Bad Plus should play instead."
Ξ•  Costumes Are Mandatory might work best because the music and the musicians have either approached Tristano with completely different competing musical influences, or in the case of Konitz, having completely absorbed then transcended his former mentor. They're not trying to imitate Tristano, but they forge just enough of a connection to make a truly interesting record that's worth seeking out. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
Also:
By Raul da Gama
•   This magnificent record would have been all the poorer were it not for some of the finest bass-playing by Larry Grenadier. Mr. Grenadier’s fingers sizzle and pop as he makes his bass sing and growl all in one voice. He is one of the most sensitive bassists and bears out this testimony in his extraordinary duet with Lee Konitz on “Body and Soul”; This is a song that is played in so many situations and in a myriad of variations and combinations, but this version with Mr. Konitz and Mr. Grenadier is easily one of the most definitive versions ever likely to be heard. It is true that when musicians make a record, they can only expect to stick to a script however loose it may be and hope for the best, but on this one there are four of the most creative musicians engaged in unexpurgated improvisation and this makes for rare musical excitement because the next phrase seems to come from something like a spectral source; and the link to that previous phrase is so tenuous that it could make or break the architectural link in the music. Happily the movement is so perfect that the music soars to a rarefied realm. (excerpt)
Fortaken: http://jazzdagama.com/reviews/cds/iverson-konitz-grenadier-rossy-costumes-are-mandatory/
Ethan Iverson Blog: http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/ethan-iverson.html
By Ralph A. Miriello
Ξ•  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-a-miriello/costumes-are-mandatoryeth_b_3484881.html
Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ***½
Ξ•  In his liner notes to Costumes Are Mandatory, pianist Ethan Iverson states plainly that this recording documents "the four of us in dialog with the Tristano school." That dialogue includes argument. Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, of course, comes directly from that school; Lennie was his mentor. At 85, Konitz is one of the music's most iconic and constant improvisers and he shines here. Of these 14 cuts, eight feature him and Iverson, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy — the rhythm section of Brad Mehldau's trio. The rest are trios, solos, or duets. There are numerous surprises, including two versions of Iverson's "Blueberry Ice Cream." It's a blues and Konitz doesn't usually play them. But it's where he came from — he was a vocalist in a jump band originally, and the pianist composed it with that in mind. Grenadier's walking bassline establishes the 12-bar notion, and Iverson begins a harmonic inquiry into Tristano, while Konitz moves right into the middle of the blues with that airy, dry tone of his, speaking sparely yet insistently. "Try a Little Tenderness" is a set watermark, commencing with a ghostly piano intro that touches on gospel, allowing the hint of the melody in impressionistically before bringing it in wholesale. Konitz uses a mute on the first chorus. When the rhythm section enters behind him, he dumps it and stretches the lyric to the edge, while never losing its languid beauty. Iverson overdubs his piano, solo, on an intro version of Konitz's "It's You," in homage to Tristano's examples from the 1950s, before the band plays their own. On the latter, Iverson directly opposes Lennie by channeling Thelonious Monk — his least favorite pianist. Grenadier's walking bassline keeps the track anchored as Rossy plays another Lennie no-no: a busy syncopated cadence, much freer than the original. Konitz also extrapolates on the lyric and makes it elastic, deconstructing it in his solo. Another gem is the alto and bass duet on "Body and Soul," which is full of deep dulcet tones by both players as they move through, around, and inside the lyric almost symbiotically. Ξ•  Iverson attempted in vain to get Konitz to play on the R&B standard "Blueberry Hill." But the way the pianist pulls apart the harmony beginning with the second chorus is remarkable for being simultaneously knotty and elegant. No dialogue with Tristano would be complete without a reading of Konitz's "317 East 32nd." Iverson claims the saxophonist agreed to play it grudgingly, but it is a compelling encounter nonetheless. Ξ•  The pianist approaches the harmonics from the back end, while the saxophonist inverts his own ideas of its lyric — only touching on the head at the end — and Rossy's skittering cymbals almost strut against Grenadier's walk. Costumes Are Mandatory is anything but a conventional recording: these players communicate, inquire, and argue with one another as much as they do Tristano and seem to delight in the process, which is a reward for any jazz listener. Ξ _______________________________________________________________ 

Ethan Iverson & Lee Konitz — Costumes Are Mandatory (2013)

 

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