Konitz slips in to the festival

Lee Konitz’s last-minute inclusion on the Red Sea Jazz Festival roster is certainly a feather in the event’s cap.

August 16, 2014 21:05
1 minute read.
Lee Konitz

ICONIC JEWISH reedman Lee Konitz will perform at this year’s Red Sea Jazz Festival.. (photo credit: BOB TRAVIS)

Following the disappointing withdrawal of two American acts lined up for this year’s Red Sea Jazz Festival, which is due to take place in Eilat August 24-27, artistic directors Eli Degibri and Dubi Lenz have come up with a couple of more than worthy replacements.

A few days before the first 72-hour ceasefire in the hostilities down south, saxophonist Marcus Strickland shows and trumpeter Terence Blanchard announced they would not be performing in Eilat. Happily, earlier this week, Degibri and Lenz were able to announce that 36-year-old saxophonist Dayna Stephens and iconic 86-year-old Jewish reedman Lee Konitz had agreed to fill in the gaps in the four-day program.

Stephens has maintained a busy recording and performance schedule since releasing his debut album, The Timeless Now, in 2007 and has put out four more CDs in the interim. Fittingly, Stephens’s latest album is called Peace, and features a stellar lineup of guitarist Julian Lange, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland.

Konitz’s last-minute inclusion on the Red Sea Jazz Festival roster is certainly a feather in the Eilat event’s cap. The octogenarian composer and alto saxophonist was one of the leading members of the 1950s cool jazz movement, and also a mainstay of the bebop and avant garde sectors of the jazz discipline.

When bebop founder alto saxophonist Charlie Parker burst on the scene in the 1940s, many alto players transferred to the tenor version of the instrument, but Konitz was one of the few altoists to forge their own distinctive sound.

During the course of his six-and-half-decade long career to date Konitz has released over 120 albums under his own name, and performed sideman duties with many of the titans of the jazz community, including Miles Davis, Lennie Tristano, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans and Kenny Wheeler. Konitz last performed in Israel in 2010, at the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival.

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