ACCLAIMED JAZZ ARTISTS LEE KONITZ AND DAN TEPFER COME TOGETHER TO RELEASE RARE IMPROVISATIONAL DUO ALBUM ON VERVE RECORDS
Having first performed together in 2007, acclaimed Jazz musicians Lee Konitz and Dan Tepfer join forces to release their Sophomore duo album, Decade, on Verve Records. The album will be released digitally on 7/6 and is available for pre-order now. The duo will play two NYC dates on July 26 and 27 at the Jazz Gallery, where they first performed together, in light of the album release.
Decade marks ten years since the duo's first and only release together in 2008, the critically acclaimed, Duos with Lee, lending to its title. Having spent the intermittent years individually touring across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia both as a duo and in larger settings, Konitz and Tepfer have developed a deep complicity that is evident on the upcoming album.
The album further signifies a historic note in NEA Jazz Master, Lee Konitz's career – celebrating his 90th birthday and focusing on a rare yet strong form for the artist: free improvisation. It's not often that Konitz releases albums that feature free improvisation, where the totality of the music is invented as it is being recorded. However, it's a form at which he excels – Konitz in fact partook in one of the first recordings of free improvisation in jazz history in 1949, on Lennie Tristano's Intuition, at the young age of 22.
Rising star Dan Tepfer, acclaimed both for his original work with his trio and for his exploration of Bach's Goldberg Variations, and 55 years Konitz's junior, is a perfect dialogue partner here, inventing an ever-changing landscape for the jazz legend to react to and engage with. The musical connection between the two is telepathic. With Konitz on saxophone/vocals and Tepfer on the piano, Decade is centered around the feeling of discovery.
The majority of the tracks on the record came to light during a series of hour-long recording sessions at the Yamaha artist space in Manhattan in 2015-16, without any form of planning. Those tracks that were not recorded at Yamaha, including "Alter Ego", "Egos Alter" and "Eager Altos" were recorded five years prior, in Konitz's apartment on a whim, further lending to the album's foundations of well-composed spontaneity and discovery.
Produced by Tepfer, who brought his own recording gear to each of the sessions to make for an informal and unrushed setting, Decade also explores a variety of new sounds and ideas for the duo. The tracks "Pulsing Orange" and "Pulsing Green" layer pianos on top of each other, from a number of different spaces and positions throughout a room, while the most experimental of the tracks "Through the Tunnel" features surprise vocals from Konitz's and makes use of a Disklavier player piano, for which Tepfer wrote computer algorithms that respond in real time to the music he improvises.
Yet, throughout, what comes through first and foremost is not cold experimentation, but warm listening, the two musicians creating a seemingly endless stream of melodies that work seamlessly together. Of the experience of listening to the album, Konitz, not known for his effusiveness, says: "It's beautiful, for lack of a better word. I've been listening to it over and over again, with eagerness, and it's new every time."