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Konitz/Mehldau/Haden/Motian: Live at Birdland

What do you get when four excellent jazz musicians get together for an impromptu and completely unrehearsed gig performing classic standards, well, Live at Birdland of course. Live at Birdland was recorded at the famous theater of the same name with the players being Lee Konitz (alto saxophone), Brad Mehldau (piano), Charlie Haden (double-bass) and Paul Motian (drums). All of these musicians have been involved with the ECM label in one form or another so it stands to reason Live at Birdland makes an excellent addition to the ECM catalogue. And let me tell you jazz fans – it does not disappoint.

The playing is sublime as all four musicians put their own stamp on these timeless compositions. Melody and improvisation mesh together wonderfully making for a richly rewarding and ultimately satisfying listen.

They get the ball rolling with "Lover Man" and its alto sax intro before a trickle of piano notes, steady bass and a subtle snare drum languidly enters the fold. The sax work here is truly beautiful and brings to mind those classic standards of yesteryear. There is also room for solo bass and piano and neither disappoints.

In the poignant "Lullaby Of Birdland" sax and piano play off the solid rhythmic combo of Haden and Motian with plenty of room for solo piano and bass. Motian's fabulous drumming, his cymbal taps in particular, are an exercise in subtlety.

In the Miles Davis classic "Solar", Konitz' distinctive alto sax begins the tune before light as a feather drum work eases its way in and Haden's piano lines twist and turn in an exciting and unpredictable way. All the musicians are showcased including some of Motian's more frantic drum work. And so it goes…

Live at Birdland has to be one of the better live jazz albums released this year as improvisation and elegance go hand in hand. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Track Listing:
1. Lover Man
2. Lullaby Of Birdland
3. Solar
4. I Fall In Love Too Easily
5. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
6. Oleo

Added: September 5th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1187
Language: english

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