Though he hasn't enjoyed the sometimes over-abundant benefits other saxists have (what the hell was the story with Dave Sanborn anyway?!?!), Lee Konitz has long since earned the respect of peers for his intelligence and dexterities; thus, it's no accident the Jazzwerkstatt label invited him to do a collection of solos and duets, wanting a disc of art rather than merchandisable mainstreamery. And the former is precisely what you get here. Konitz has never been either a Braxton or a Mulligan but instead lay somewhere between, unafraid to embrace either camp to greater or lesser degree. Insight thus also lies somewhere in that territory and will prove inviting to both sides, especially those with the sophistications to embrace the fuller spectrum of music's always expanding and re-evaluative parameters.
The first three cuts are solo and remind strongly of such ventures as Paul Horn's venerable old Inside singleton work, in essence if not in instrumental exactitude: airy and experimental, explorations that neither shatter tradition nor become enslaved to it, walking in and out of borders. Then Frank Wunsch jumps in for the rest of the CD, playing a powerful hand in his ministrations on the piano. This guy is fully convicted in every note he wrings, and the effect is almost stunning, a solid and unhedging accompaniment to Konitz's thoughtfully firm sax lines. There's more than a little of Kenton's neoclassicism here but more in the vein of side pools rather than Stan's oft sprawling vistas.
Echoes d'Erik Satie is an interesting cut invoking the sainted composer's work beyond all the over-quoted gentler gnossienistic perennials. Too many forget the splashy "Parade" and more muscular works, but Wunsch, who wrote the piece, does not, straddling the two modes perfectly, he and Konitz alternating between leonine passages and emphasized mellifluity, one often against the other in synchrony for more striking contrast. However, no matter what cut you select, Insight is a great example of modern chamber jazz, a CD that will readily sit alongside your ECM treasures, and if you decide you want more—how could you not?—then jump over to the review of the deliciously abstract Augusto Pirodda disc (here) and treat yourself to a double-header.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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